This in from Gemma on behalf of the Governors of Christ the King College in the latest on the public row over debt levels at the school. Ed
Governing Body’s further statement regarding the Sixth Form accommodation
The Governing Body of Christ the King College is extremely disappointed and dismayed by the public stance, including on broadcast media, adopted by the Isle of Wight Council and its Leader Cllr Dave Stewart, in the matter of the hire agreement for the College’s Sixth Form accommodation.
Despite recent supportive discussions between the College, the Dioceses and the Isle of Wight Council, the Council has sought to deny that it endorsed or supported the Governing Body’s decision to enter into the hire agreement. This is categorically untrue.
In paragraph 4 of the letter of the 14th February, 2013 from Steve Beynon (then Chief Executive of Isle of Wight Council) to the Principal, Mr Beynon stated that:
“The Council approves the entry into the Hire Contract by the Governing Body…”
A dignified silence
The College has retained a dignified silence on the matter for a long time and regrets having to now respond to the line taken by the Leader of the Council and would like to state that, despite some people’s misunderstanding, we are a state Local Authority maintained school.
The Governors feel that they are left with no alternative but to address the historic nature of the situation which dates back to 2008.
Strongly continues to refute IWC comments
The Governing Body strongly continues to refute the comments that have been made that it was the College driving the extension to the age range to include a Sixth Form.
The College was invited to extend the age range, in line with the education competition process that was put out by the Local Authority, and a joint consultation followed by the Dioceses and the Local Authority as part of the Council’s strategic approach to improving standards of education across the island.
Christ the King College, as a provider of 11-19 education, was planned collaboratively and consultatively between the Local Authority, both Dioceses and the Governing Body since the inception of the school as evidenced in the proposal document dated November 2008 which stated:
Section 4: Alteration description:
“The proposals are to change the age range of the College for students from the current age range 9 to 14 years and in so doing increase the capacity of the College to ensure appropriate accommodation and facilities are established for a College of approximate size of 1200 students. It is planned to make the necessary modification to the buildings currently on the upper college site to ensure appropriate facilities for students aged 11-13 and to provide a complete new build for students aged 14-19 on the same site.”
Section 12, Project Costs, of the same document states:
“The capital costs are estimated to be in the region of £18 million. The costs are to be met through the Building For Schools Programme at 100%.”
Further to this, the Isle of Wight Council Cabinet Committee Report (dated 10th February 2009) outlines the extensive consultation that took place regarding the alteration to the age range and specifically states:
Paragraph 6: “Throughout the process the Diocesan Authorities together with the Governing Body have consulted extensively with the Local Authority both to ensure that their proposed changes in provision assist the Local Authority’s drive to improve educational standards but also complement the need to offer diversity in provision in respect of the Education and Inspections Act 2006.”
The Isle of Wight Council Record of Decision paper, dated 18th February 2009, confirmed the following:
“THAT the Council exercises its power under the Education and Inspections Act 2006 to grant the Governing Body of Christ the King College and the Church of England Diocese of Portsmouth and Winchester and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth the right to change the age characteristic of Christ the King College to that of an 11 to 19 school. The change of age to be achieved as described in paragraph 3 of this report and to take effect from 1st September 2010.”
The paper states the reason for this decision was:
“to align with the Council’s current school reorganisation programme. To align with the Council’s Eco-Island themes:
A thriving island
An inspiring island”
Building Schools for the Future
This was also in the line with the government policy to allow successful schools to expand to meet parental choice and to be provided with the appropriate facilities. The Local Authority was reliant on the Building Schools for the Future Programme funding to achieve the final 11-19 school.
When this government-scheme funding fell through, the local Authority failed to re-consult regarding the age range alteration or even reconsider how the 11-19 school would be funded, despite the Governing Body’s persistent and repeated requests for support.
IWC could have refused letter for hire company
In response to comments made about the Local Authority not giving approval or endorsement of the Governors’ plans to enter the hire agreement for the Sixth Form accommodation, it is agreed that the letter shared in the Local Authority’s press statement was requested by the College and was provided by Steve Beynon, then Chief Executive.
It was not a legal requirement to obtain this letter; however, it was a requirement of the hire company in order for them to proceed, and the Local Authority could have refused to provide it. Therefore, the Local Authority had the opportunity to stop the agreement proceeding and did not do so.
IWC loaned £30,000 to college for planning app
Indeed, the Local Authority even loaned the money to the College to proceed with the planning application for the Sixth Form accommodation, a sum of £30,000, which has been repaid.
The Governing Body does not agree with the Council’s view that the College has financially been treated the same as other schools. This view fails to recognise that Christ the King College is the only Island secondary school that was housed in inappropriate middle school buildings with some limited temporary accommodation and received no start-up funding which all other Island secondary schools did receive.
During the period of Christ the King College developing to a full secondary school (2009-2011), the public will be aware through existing public documentation and press records of the financial support other schools received, including, amongst other examples, one secondary school which had an over £2.1 million deficit written off during that period and the gifting of Nodehill Middle School site to another secondary school for their Sixth Form accommodation with £1.4 million funded by the Local Authority to refurbish this facility.
Refutes claims of poor financial management
In response to comments made regarding the current College debt of £2.7 million, the College continues to refute any claims of poor financial management.
On the contrary, the College has worked relentlessly to manage its budget and maintain the hire payments to this date whilst continuing to provide a strong education for its students. The budget deficit is entirely attributable to the hire agreement and does not reflect any overspend in any other area of the budget as indicated by national benchmarking exercises.
College has not refused to work with IWC
It is also important to state that at no time has the College refused to work with the Local Authority regarding a recovery plan and it is committed to finding a solution to resolve this debt.
However, the Governing Body has a well-documented history of the whole issue and remains adamant that the responsibility to address the situation does not, and should not, remain solely with the College.
Request for help towards £4m, now a £10m burden
Councillor Stewart is right to raise the issue of tax payers’ money and the necessity for the right and purposeful use of this. It is for this very reason that the College has repeatedly requested support since 2010 from the Local Authority to obtain appropriate, fit for purpose facilities for our students.
The College requested financial support to purchase the £4 million building but, in the absence of such support, was left with no alternative but to enter the more expensive £10 million hire agreement to provide the necessary and appropriate accommodation for our students who had already commenced Sixth Form education at the College. The Local Authority and Dioceses were fully aware of this.
Priority maintaining good education
Where the Governing Body also wholeheartedly agrees with Councillor Stewart is that the main priority continues to be maintaining the good education which is being provided for the students at Christ the King College.
We have consistently sought to resolve the challenging situation collaboratively with the Dioceses and the Local Authority and, indeed, had requested that a joint statement be issued.
We were disappointed at the Local Authority’s refusal to do so and sincerely regret that this ongoing challenge has become a public dispute. We have no wish for this to continue.
All documents quoted above can be found at the end of the press release below