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Secondary education

Surrey Schools Financial Difficulty

17 replies

GreyUser · 29/02/2024 09:12

We have heard that two Surrey Schools owned by Bridewell Foundation (King Edwards Witley and Barrow Hills) are in financial difficulty and may not be able to cope with increases in costs expected to come from changes to teachers pensions and vat in school fees. The rumours are that they have threatened all staff with dismissal of they do not agree to new contracts by Easter that reduced the schools staffing bill. This is really worrying as we considering the senior school for our son who is in Year Five. I contacted the school but they refused to comment as I'm not a current parent.
Are there any people here with links to the school who can clarify whether the rumours are true and what is going on there at the moment?

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tennissquare · 29/02/2024 09:18

I don't know anything about these schools but yes it's correct that the teachers pension contribution from schools to TPS is increasing from 23% to 28% on 1st April. If you read other threads on TPS you will see that it is legally acceptable to negotiate this way with teaching staff in TPS as the school may fail financially due to the increase.

This TPS increase only applies to private schools, it's being met by the Govt in the state sector.

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Spendonsend · 29/02/2024 09:22

No links to the school at all, but a large number of independent schools are looking at exiting the TPS scheme due to increased costs.

All independent schools are worried about the impact of VAT on parents ability to pay schools fees so i cant imagine many arent in the process of preparing for it.

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GreyUser · 29/02/2024 09:23

Thank you. My concern is whether it is a good idea to send children to a school that could be in such financial difficulty as well that it has to threaten all staff with the sack so I am keen to know the truth about these schools and hoped somebody would have heard what has been reported to families about the schools difficulties. We already had a school close over Christmas (Belmont) in the area so it is worrying to see another two potentially on the brink.

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SheilaFentiman · 29/02/2024 09:29

The strikes at RGS in Guildford over the TPS were covered in MN threads at the time. I appreciate that you want specific info on this school but PP is right when she says that TPS and VAT will be issues for all schools during your DS’s secondary school life, not just the ones you name.

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Spendonsend · 29/02/2024 10:03

Fire and rehire is a horrid tactic but one lots of schools exiting the tps are threatening.

As i say, no knowledge of your schools. They could be about to go bust or have millions in cash accounts. Can you look them up on companies house?

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incognito119 · 29/02/2024 12:59

I googled their charity accounts and it doesn't look good. They are charity number 311997 and according to the accounts submitted to the charities commission they over spent by-£564,000 investments gains (losses) last yeat

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LadyLapsang · 29/02/2024 14:15

Hi OP, what is your source?

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GreyUser · 29/02/2024 21:32

incognito119 · 29/02/2024 12:59

I googled their charity accounts and it doesn't look good. They are charity number 311997 and according to the accounts submitted to the charities commission they over spent by-£564,000 investments gains (losses) last yeat

Thank you. That sounds like a lot bit I guess it all depends how much they have in the bank. I didn't know you could look up their accounts. I will ask my husband if he can try to find them and see what they have in the bank. Rushing to try and cut staff costs would suggest they are pretty worried about their future though and their refusal to even acknowledge the rumours was a real concern.

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GreyUser · 29/02/2024 21:36

SheilaFentiman · 29/02/2024 09:29

The strikes at RGS in Guildford over the TPS were covered in MN threads at the time. I appreciate that you want specific info on this school but PP is right when she says that TPS and VAT will be issues for all schools during your DS’s secondary school life, not just the ones you name.

I didn't think state schools would be asked to pay vat. Equally, I would hope that a government would support state schools to pay increased pensions by funding these increases by increasing school budgets. Essentially, my concern is that it is really the private schools who are going to feel the squeeze financially more than state and I'm concerned we may see many close locally here in Surrey. Especially if these two are about to close too!

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SheilaFentiman · 29/02/2024 23:01

Perhaps I should have specified private schools, but I thought it was clear from
the context.

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GreyUser · 01/03/2024 19:36

For what it's worth, I heard confirmation today that these negotiations and potential fire and rehire are indeed ongoing. I don't know what means for our school choices but it's good to know at last that something is indeed going on with these two schools.

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BoyGirlMama · 02/03/2024 12:43

Newbie here,

Looking to hear from parents of RGSG boys please:

Son has place at RGS Guildford. Alternative school has plenty of family involvement, networking groups etc. Aiming to fill gaps in my knowledge of RGSG.

  1. What scope beyond PTA is there for families to connect with RGSG? and
  2. What kind of relationship do you as parents have with the school please?


Many thanks BGMama
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KimMumsnet · 02/03/2024 16:04

Hiya @BoyGirlMama - welcome to Mumsnet. It's best to start a new thread asking your question, rather than posting on this one. There are some FAQs here about posting if you're unsure of how to do that. Do get in touch at [email protected] if you need any further help.

Sorry for derailing your thread there briefly, OP!

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GreyUser · 02/03/2024 16:08

LadyLapsang · 29/02/2024 14:15

Hi OP, what is your source?

Mums who have friends on the staff

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PostmanP · 11/03/2024 14:45

Full transparency my kids are going to these schools from Sept 24 from the state sector. Have looked into these issues (and my job requires me to look at these things with a sceptics eye) however, there are very few independent schools nationally which either have not recently, are not currently, or are not about to go through a consultation process re TPS which is usually framed (wrongly or rightly) against the alternative scenario of the school closing so possibly unfair to focus on just these schools. Arguably that's the only way you are going to get staff to take it seriously is to frame in this way. Would also concur that a marginal year on year loss doesnt mean anything if you dont have the starting cash position/accounts are a once in time snapshot - the rationale for the marginal loss is sound in the text of the accounts particularly in terms of global macros/headwinds over last couple of years. Specifically on KESW, it has had a huge multi-million capex programme (new entrance/exhibition hall/6th form digs/new DT block) to uprate facilities in the last 2 years. Pretty clear that the governing body/leadership would not knowingly incur that sort of spend if there was serious doubt about ability to continue. I personally think the school is going places ("new" head at KESW is experienced yet dynamic) and if you talk to leadership they are very aware of challenges ahead for the sector and have made some moves to mitigate against those (as above plus stronger partnership between Barrow Hills/KESW re shared resources, marketing 6th form internationally etc). No school is immune from challenges but based on what I can see not seeing these as a particular outlier.

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MintSnail · Yesterday 10:43

@GreyUser it's undoubtedly a very difficult time for independent schools even in affluent Surrey. I think you are well advised to a do a full due diligence on the school, it's not just about the teaching, the estate, and if your family likes it. Look at Companies House as suggested (£500K+ deficit is massive for a school), get a breakdown of pupil numbers now vs last year, gender balance is also quite telling. Both of these will give a sense if the school is thriving, hanging on or about to close. I appreciate that a school closure is a massive event for a child to go through and one that would be keen to avoid inflicting.

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PostmanP · Yesterday 17:09

I dont mean to be rude at all (please forgive me if it comes across this way) but whilst I 100% agree that all parents should do their diligence the focus on the £564k "loss" item is misguided. This is the loss/gain on investments - the previous year there was £4,192k (ie £4.192m) gain on investments if you read it that way. So across those two accounting years there is a notional net gain of approx £3.6m! Also the resultant difference in end year balance between the most recent reported two years is a mere £203,000 (the loss is explained against the backdrop of global geo-political instability which would affect the value of all/any of our own investments (eg in a FTSE tracker). There are still £24.6m of investments recorded. If you wanted to have the same balance as previous years (for whatever reason) that £203k is only c£500 per student in that school to fill the gap (based on 400 students at KESW). Do your diligence but please do it in an informed way/get someone who understands accounts to interpret because they are not easy and it is easy to drive a self-fulfilling prophecy off of bad information/analysis as people get scared by the headlines!

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