Sheffield school ordered to improve financial position amid plans to close sixth form

A Sheffield school which plans to close its sixth form has been ordered by the government to improve its financial position and join a multi-academy trust.

By Alana Roberts
Thursday, 11 April, 2019, 14:19
Bradfield School

Bradfield School near Worrall is forecast to end the academic year with a deficit of over £800,000, leading officials to question its viability as a standalone school. 

Teachers on the picket line at Bradfield School

The school has now been issued with a ‘notice to improve’ by the Education and Skills Funding Agency. It has breached rules, civil servants say, for failing to submit audited statements which were due on December 31.

It was already subject to ESFA intervention ‘due to concerns regarding financial management’, and had been working to address the concerns. However, the agency said those in charge had ‘not provided assurances that it can achieve a better budget’.

They added: “Its financial position is poor and worsening, and it continues to operate in both in-year and cumulative deficit positions.” 

The letter also states the notice will only be lifted once the requirements are met.

In a statement, Bradfield said: “Governors are working very closely with the Education and Skills Funding Agency to ensure that the budget becomes balanced in the very near future and we have financial stability moving forward. 

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“The formal Financial Notice to Improve supports our ongoing work to ensure that rigorous financial controls and procedures are in place so that we can return to a balanced budget from September 2019."

Bradfield was deemed to require improvement at its last Ofsted inspection in 2017.

In January, the school announced plans to close its sixth form, blaming the ‘drastic and regrettable’ move on a lack of money and difficulties with recruiting enough students.

The school ended the 2017/18 academic year with a deficit of £400,000, with an overall deficit of over £800,000 expected by September – overspending at the rate of just over £2 per pupil per school day.

Last month around 40 staff members walked out in a dispute over the compulsory redundancies of 15 teachers.

They were joined by parents who expressed their anger over not only the job losses but also cuts to subjects such as art, music and drama.