Statement from The Leathersellers' Federation of Schools

Statement from Leathersellers’ Federation of Schools, 20 July 2017 in response to the Guardian article reference to Prendergast Ladywell School on 18/07/17

An article in the Guardian this week about the finances of Forest Hill School also refers to Prendergast Ladywell School, suggesting that it is in “financial difficulty” owing to a deficit of £173,000.  We  want to assure everyone that while Prendergast Ladywell School has faced some financial challenges the current position is much improved.

The deficit quoted related to the financial year 2015/16, and there was a further deficit in 2016/17.  The key factors were a shrinking pupil roll, the withdrawal of SEN funding, the amount spent on alternative provision for students, high staff agency costs and the high PFI costs of the school building.

Benchmarking against the other schools in our Federation showed the key teaching ratios such as teacher pupil ratios and teacher contact time were consistent. Learning support staff costs were relatively high given PLS’ more challenging intake demographic with the highest number of pupil premium students (68%).

The staff and leadership team and the Local Authority have worked very hard to improve this  school and to ensure its sustainability.  The Local Authority has capped the PFI costs at 10% of our budget.  Pupil recruitment stabilised in 2015/16, moved up in 2016/17 and is on course to be almost 40% up this September from September 2015.  This is testimony to the immense amount of work done turning this school around and making it a more attractive choice for parents locally.  This year we had the lowest staff turnover of any state secondary school in Lewisham which shows the enormous progress made by the school leadership.

Andy Rothery, Chair of Governors said, “We are confident that all our schools are on a sound financial footing, despite the very challenging national funding environment, and we are determined to deliver our strategy of providing excellent education in three outstanding schools for the people of Lewisham.”

Posted on 27th July 2017