Royston Schools Academy Trust receives £800,000 central government loan to cover funding gap

08:50 23 August 2014

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A schools academy trust says falling pupil numbers are to blame for financial problems which led to it receiving an £800,000 government ‘bridging loan’.

The Royston Schools Academy Trust (RSAT) – which is comprised of The Meridian School, Greneway Middle School and Roysia Middle School – will receive the emergency deficit funding from the government’s Education Funding Agency (EFA) over the next three years. The academy trust has also been given a financial notice to improve.

The EFA intervention comes because the trust is set to run up a deficit of £800,000 over the next three years.

David Brynjolffssen, who chairs the RSAT board, told The Crow that a fall in the number of school-aged children in the town, and the subsequent reduction in funding, had hit the three schools hard.

He said: “Through the early 2000s, the population of Royston was rising fast but the number of school-age children was falling. We identified the falling roll back in 2008 and figured out there would be trouble ahead.”

The schools have also been affected by a reduction in pupil funding for sixth formers, which amounts to a loss of £900 per pupil.

Paul Boulton, a member of the RSAT board and governor at the Meridian School, said: “The demographics of Royston have been unusual in recent years. While you can’t predict the future, the first schools are all full at the moment and the new houses being built in the town may make a difference too.

“We see this as a ‘bridging loan’ to help us get past what is a temporary problem.”

The trust will be repaying the interest-free loan until 2021, having agreed a recovery package with the EFA.

In the mean-time, they are trying to reduce costs by sharing staff and resources between the schools.

Laura Rawlings, head teacher at Greneway School, said: “We have a well-established three-tier system in Royston, and we’re always looking to strengthen the collaboration between the three schools because this benefits the children’s education, as well as helping us get value for money.”

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