20th Sep, 2018

Governing board removed at Trinity School in bid to balance books

Ian Hughes 12th Sep, 2018

THE GOVERNORS at Trinity School in Leamington have been removed in a bid to balance the books.

The Regional Schools Commissioner Christine Quinn took the decision to replace the governing board at the Catholic school with an interim executive board (IEB), which is expected to be in place for around a year, amid growing concerns about ‘budgetary pressures’.

The commissioner also made a temporary change to the school’s leadership, with Jon Shires taking on the role of acting principal in place of Chris Gabbett.

In making her decision, the commissioner raised concerns the governing body had been able to balance the budget, and over a number of years it had resulted in a growing deficit.

Christopher Snelson, former chair of governors at the Guys Cliffe Avenue school, said: “The school has been impacted by significant change since 2009, including a sharp decline in pupil numbers, the withdrawal of the discretionary bus subsidy and increased competition from existing and new schools.

“The governing board has ensured Trinity has a clear vision, ethos and strategic direction and has consistently held the principal to account for educational performance. We have never shirked our responsibilities and have always been robust in challenging the impact of all decisions made.

“Doing more with less, and doing it better with less resource, is a major challenge and we have worked hard to ensure every child’s educational experience and opportunity to perform has not been diminished because of financial pressures.

“GCSE results have been on an upward trajectory since 2015 and if Trinity had not been well led or well governed, it is very unlikely it would have achieved its ‘good’ Ofsted outcome in 2017.

“As governors, we accept we have not been able to remove the deficit in an appropriate timescale. However, we have overseen a significant reduction in the school’s deficit over the last three years and ensured it spends its budget wisely.

“We have been assiduous in trying to raise standards to make Trinity a more attractive option and clearly, increased student numbers would have a positive impact on the school’s finances.

“We are justifiably proud of current achievements and attainment given the recent and current climate. Despite the constraints, we see no reason why Trinity cannot become an outstanding school and we would have welcomed an opportunity to play our part in that ambition.

“We would like to offer our full support to the senior leadership team, the interim executive board, and all staff in the challenges ahead.”

Clive Sentance, chair of the IEB, has written to all parents explaining the change.

In his letter, he said: “We (the IEB) are a small group with the expertise and experience to work with the school over the next 12 months to ensure its future is healthy.

“I am the principal of a large secondary school, and our other members consist of a serving school finance director, a former head of an outstanding Catholic secondary school with considerable consultancy experience, an experienced project manager, and a governor from a local primary school who is also a qualified accountant.

“The IEB has replaced the governing body at the school, who stepped down at the end of August. We would like to thank all those who have served as governors in the past, and to assure all parents that we are committed to doing what we can to ensure that Trinity continues to thrive over the coming years.

“We have the full backing of the Archdiocese, who nominated some of the IEB members, and I am sure we will have your support too.”

Mr Sentance also explained headteacher Chris Gabbett would not be in school “for a few weeks” during which time he would not “be available to anybody.”

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