Harpenden head warns about seven years of want

A WARNING of lean years ahead has come from a secondary school head at the annual prize-giving ceremony.

Norman Hoare, head of St George’s School in Harpenden, used a biblical analogy to explain his concerns that even if schools continued to expand, resources and facilities would not continue to improve.

Referring to Joseph’s power to interpret dreams, Mr Hoare said the school had enjoyed seven fat years but now would have seven lean ones. He warned the audience of parents, prize-winners and invited guests of the need for realism over the next few years.

Mr Hoare said that even before the government’s spending review in October, schools had been girding their loins for cuts. He went on: “St George’s has benefitted from expansion over the last seven years and the extra money for extra pupils plus long-delayed building programmes which materialised on the back of this growth have provided a vital buffer.

“Over the last 12 months however, we have seen income streams drying up: there is no money for important capital projects and like all schools we are closely examining our curriculum and wondering where, if the cuts are savage, we can save.”

He warned that if parents wanted the best, they would find themselves putting more into schools. He went on: “We have had to ask them already – our summer Gifting campaign was necessary to expand our sixth form facilities. We have had no central help for this – there was a distinct attitude of, ‘we don’t want to know’ even though government policies have encouraged everyone’s sixth form to grow and the employment situation is forcing some to stay on.”

Parents have given �73,000 to provide new space and resources for the sixth form and a new music centre have emerged over the summer holidays, Mr Hoare added.

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Over 60 students in the senior years received prizes and awards for examination results which were the best in the school’s history.

Two new prizes were presented this year – The Olive Day McAusland Prize for Music, a �600 bursary donated by a former pupil, and The Evans Jarosz Prize for Architecture to celebrate the achievements of a former governor and the architect who had worked on every building programme since 1988.