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A Balancing Act

It’s that time of year again and all around the country, headteachers, school business managers and governing bodies are working though the various scenarios that will enable them to set a balanced budget. It’s quite simple really. All you have to do is work out what money is coming in, plan to spend a bit less, earmark the balance as a contingency and everyone’s happy. The numbers might be a bit bigger than the children’s pocket money, but the principles are the same.

The problem however is one that many of you will be familiar with. It’s hard to balance a budget when there’s less money coming in – and everything else is becoming more expensive. For all sorts of reasons, this year the challenge has been greater than ever, and whilst it may be tempting to focus on what can be cut, at Highgate Primary we know that this is short-sighted

As the revenue coming into schools is determined by the number of children who attend, having a full roll is essential. A quick look at Highgate Primary on Googlemaps reveals that our location is not necessarily in our favour. Whist it’s nice to be surrounded by the Woods, the Heath, the allotment and the golf course, the reality is that there aren’t enough children living in the surrounding streets to fill us up. We therefore have to ensure that what we offer is good enough for families to choose to make the journey to Highgate. Cutting things that impact on the quality of our provision is hardly the way to do this, or indeed achieve our aim of being the best school in the world.

Happily we are now full, so we now need to turn our attention to increasing the revenue coming in to school from other sources. We are totally committed to achieving this without jeopardising the fundamental principle that community schools should be funded by the state, so there will be no expectation for families to contribute top-up funding, as I hear is becoming the norm elsewhere. However in the current climate we do need to be creative and entrepreneurial – something the independent sector has been doing for years.

Last year we generated a considerable amount of revenue through grant applications, fundraising and donations from a range of organisations and individuals, and our aim is for this to increase. It’s going to be a challenge, but with an enlightened governing body, a dynamic PSA and our hugely supportive local community, it’s one that is surely achievable. And with the Auction of Promises taking place in two weeks’ time, one that should be a lot of fun. Get bidding in the knowledge that you’ll be enhancing the quality of education we provide.

William