Troubled St Albans school axes 10 jobs due to £500K deficit

Nicholas Breakspear School

Nicholas Breakspear School - Credit: Archant

Staff have been left devastated at the axing of 10 jobs at a St Albans secondary school put in special measures two years ago, because it has a £500,000 deficit.

Consultation on redundancies at Nicholas Breakspear Catholic School in Colney Heath Lane has begun, a spokeswoman has confirmed.

Staff were told of the looming job cuts just before they broke for the Easter holidays.

One distraught woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that last Thursday (2) staff were told in writing that “a recent audit has shown us once again to be almost £500,000 in deficit.

“There are to be 10 compulsory redundancies to take effect by the end of this school year.

“This includes long-standing senior leaders, teaching and support staff.”

She pointed out that it was the second time in several years the “already struggling network of staff” had faced the axe.

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The woman asked: “Where has the money gone this time? It certainly hasn’t been used to maintain the security of the school.”

She is particularly annoyed as Nicholas Breakspear’s new head teacher Declan Linnane boasted in a letter to parents in March that a recent Ofsted monitoring inspector had commented favourably on improvements “which continue to be made on our journey to ‘good’.”

The school was placed in special measures in late 2013 after a critical Ofsted report.

Inspectors have been regularly monitoring Nicholas Breakspear ever since. In November last year they confirmed it has been taken out of special measures but said it still requires improvement.

Previously it had scored the lowest rating, four, for being inadequate.

The woman under threat of redundancy told this paper: “You recently ran a story on Nicholas Breakspear and how, under a new head, it is working its way out of special measures and increasing in popularity, looking to become a good school.

“I can assure you this will never be the case.”

She said axing 10 jobs was not “a sign of a school ‘on the up’.”

The woman added: “This is the third round of redundancies in five years! I’m truly incensed about it all. To advertise itself as up and coming and to promise a good education for children is appalling.”

The Diocese of Westminster, on behalf of the school, said in a statement: “A redundancy consultation process has started on proposals to align expenditure to income and that process will continue after the Easter holiday. No final decisions have been made.”

In a monitoring report released by inspectors in February this year, Ofsted said regular surveys of parents, carers and students “indicate improved satisfaction with the school”.

Furthermore, the school is making “effective use of collaboration with schools in the diocese”.

At the start of the current school year the new head teacher wrote to parents, saying, “We are a school with a fresh mindset. We are unashamedly aspirational and ambitious for all our pupils. We will only accept quality and excellence in all that we do.”

Despite the job cuts, the school is still advertising positions for geography and computer science teachers to start in September this year.