The first term of 2019-2020 was busy. We gave Mrs Coleman our best wishes on her return to Icknield and employed Mr Kett to take up the role of headteacher after Christmas. During the autumn term the financial effect of some large cohorts transitioning out of the primary school with smaller new cohorts joining us became apparent. This is partially a response to falling birth rates in the village but also because travel to Coton has become much harder in recent years so there are fewer out area pupils.
Autumn term also saw SIAMS inspectors visiting the school to inspect our Christian provision as a Church Of England School in the Diocese of Ely. The inspector agreed our provision was good and was also very complementary of our RE curriculum.
The second term saw Mr Kett join the school. It was a very busy first few weeks, understanding the budgetary effects of falling student numbers we made the decision to reduce to four teaching classes. Then covid-19 arrived, this had a really dramatic effect on provision in the school. Initially the school was open only to children of key workers, including over half terms and holidays, then as summer arrived the school began opening to more children. The challenges of reacting to government announcements and balancing these against rapidly changing health and safety advice took an enormous amount of both skill and patience. Mr Kett and the entire teaching and non-teaching team have worked incredibly well together through these strange times to do their best for our school and we offer our thanks for their efforts.
The school’s financial position has become more difficult over the past year. While the financial ‘loss’ for the year to April 2020 was no worse than budgeted, it would not be possible to go on losing money in the same way. The school’s overall balance is still a positive amount, but this balance is lower than at any time for at least 15 years. Our funding is less generous than it once was, and the school is now obliged to pay for many services which at one time were provided without charge from the local authority. Also, our funding is largely dependent on pupil numbers (we receive £3,750 per annum funding per pupil) so the reduction in overall numbers has had an impact. We have set a budget for the year to April 2021 which should keep the school out of overall deficit, but with very little margin for unexpected costs.
We have welcomed Simanga Masuka to the governing body. This academic year also saw the retirement of our long standing governor, Janet Miller. We thank her for the many, many years of service she gave to Coton Primary.. Tony Osborne and Jane Hope .also retired from governors. James Edgoose stepped up to the role of vice-chair and Bridget Sutton has moved to NZ until August 2020. There is still a vacancy within the governing body so if you are interested we would love to hear from you.
The entire governing body is hoping for a more normal 2020-2021 although the threat of a second wave of Covid or an outbreak within the school environment means that that ‘more normal’ is an appropriate way to look at provision for the approaching academic year. Much effort has been put into opening a school that will be both welcoming and as safe as possible in the new academic year.
Chair of Governors