Parents’ marathon effort to help school fill nearly £80,000 shortfall

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Sway Primary School
Mums Annabelle Hughes and Michelle Smout will be running the marathon for Sway Primary School

A HEADTEACHER whose budget has been cut by nearly £80,000 has praised “truly amazing” parents for coming to the aid of pupils by fundraising and volunteering.

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Rachel Goplen, who leads Sway Primary School, hailed their “absolutely fantastic” efforts, of which the latest is two mums running the New Forest Marathon to raise money.

The pair, Michelle Smout and Annabelle Hughes, revealed on a fundraising website how the school has had to ask for donations for stationary and maths books and been unable to pay for online educational software for pupils.

Ms Goplen, who has been headteacher for 14 years, had to write to parents earlier this year to inform them that cuts to her budget had left her with a shortfall of £77,000.

She told the A&T: “A low birth rate across the New Forest in 2013/14 meant that our reception class for 2018 was only 19 instead of 30. As a result our funding was cut.

“The funding for the school had already been significantly cut over the previous two years. As a result of the shortfall we had to reduce staffing levels. We used to have seven teaching assistants but we now have four.

“We have not replaced staff when they have left and we also have to share admin and caretaking staff with other schools.

“We also have been unable to undertake any professional development, or training.”

The school has been hit by a nearly £80,000 shortfall

Ms Goplen said she urged parents to write to New Forest East MP Julian Lewis and the then education secretary Damian Hind to complain about the cuts.

But parents have also taken the fundraising initiative, and Mrs Goplen said: “They have all been brilliant. Since I wrote to them revealing how much the budget had been cut they have really rallied round to do as much for the school as possible.

“They and the PTA have held all sorts of fundraising events even including a lottery. Parents have also volunteered their time, coming into school to support pupils, decorate, and do all sorts of things.

“I cannot thank them enough, they have just been truly amazing.”

Ms Goplen said she is hoping that a recent announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that he is intending to increase funding for education will result in more cash for her school.

She said: “There is not enough funding full-stop for schools. The government needs to do something urgently to support pupils and schools. They really need to focus on education.”

At the New Forest Marathon today, Michelle and Annabelle will be running their first ever half-marathon to raise money for the school.

They have set up a Justgiving page on which they wrote: “We know that all schools across England are struggling with funding issues, but having received recent letters from our headteacher showing that this year the school has a £77,000 shortfall we decided to try to help in our own small way.

“We don’t want our children to be disadvantaged, and many of the parents are trying different ways to raise funds to help, so this is our attempt!”

The mums have already reached over £800 of their £1,000 target. To donate visit
Justgiving.com/crowdfunding/annabel-hughesandmichelle-smout.

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