Yesterday Acting Headteacher Craig Knowles and former Headteacher Phil Keay presented evidence to MPs in the House of Commons.
The focus of the Public Accounts Committee enquiry was capital spending for schools, essentially scrutinising the Department for Education and Education Funding Agency on whether it has delivered effectively on school buildings.
As a school that has gone through this process recently the school was invited to present oral evidence to the committee to give a context to the scrutiny questions to follow. Sitting on the committee is MP for Houghton and Sunderland South Bridget Phillipson MP, who helped organise the visit.
Below is the TV recording of the committee meeting (courtesy of Parliament TV), with the section from 1-38 minutes being the section Hetton School is most mentioned in.
Mr Knowles said, “This was a great opportunity to help MPs challenge the DfE and EFA on the real, day-to-day impacts of decisions that have been taken. As a school we have a fantastic building that , although not without its faults, is a great environment for students and staff to develop in. However, we have had unforeseen costs this year that we believe should have formed part of contingency within the EFA budget and have now fallen on the school. These costs have to be found from our depleted revenue budget and therefore means we have less to spend on our real priorities of high quality teachers in every classroom, supported by high quality non-teaching staff. Despite these difficulties we have a clear plan for the school’s future that will allow us to continue to prosper as a good school.”
Although the committee focussed on whether the school building programme nationally was delivering effectively, Mr Knowles was able to convey our own school position and give the key message that the measure of the effectiveness of a school building is how well it allows students to learn and teachers to teach. In this regard Hetton School is performing at a much higher level than was ever possible in our previous crumbling buildings.
Mr Knowles concluded by stating, “One thing for sure, the future is bright at Hetton School, because we prioritise the most important thing – putting our students first”