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Headteacher forced to ask parents to help repair school due to dwindling budgets

PUBLISHED: 16:19 25 August 2019 | UPDATED: 08:54 26 August 2019

Emma Conway painting the corridors at Avenue Junior School. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Emma Conway painting the corridors at Avenue Junior School. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

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A junior school headteacher has said the toughest budgets she has seen in 10 years have forced her to ask parents to volunteer to help with essential repairs.

Avenue Junior School's headteacher Debbie Dismore helping to revamp the school in preparation for September. Picture: Ella WilkinsonAvenue Junior School's headteacher Debbie Dismore helping to revamp the school in preparation for September. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Debbie Dismore, headteacher at Avenue Junior School in Milford Road, Norwich, made the plea earlier this month as she asked parents to help with painting, gardening, cleaning and general repairs.

And although she said the turn out at the school on Sunday had been "heartwarming", she felt the reasons behind it were a sad state of affairs.

Mrs Dismore said: "I've got parents, children, governors, staff, and volunteers from Chapelfield shopping centre who have come to help. We've done days like this before but the main purpose was to build communities, the main purpose now is to get the school ready for September. It's been wonderful but it is quite sad that education funding is in such a state."

Mrs Dismore said even though she had been prudent with the school's funds, budgets just kept getting tighter and she had to make the choice about whether to spend that on upkeep, or children's education.

Max and Melody helping to clean up the playground at Avenue Junior School before the new term. Picture: Ella WilkinsonMax and Melody helping to clean up the playground at Avenue Junior School before the new term. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

She said: "Through the year we've kept our parents updated on the financial situation of schools and they appreciated that the money we have got we need to spend on having good quality teachers, but there is a frustration that we should not be in this position. As much as it's lovely to see and it's really heartwarming, it's actually wrong that I am having to take free labour.

"In education in general budgets are very tight, they are the tightest I've ever seen in 10 years. I've been quite prudent and rolled some money over year to year but that now has got less and less and by next year unless the government put more funding in we will be in a deficit budget situation, as will most of the schools in Norfolk."

Mrs Dismore said already she had been unable to replace some support staff if they had left, and a pastoral support service to help with children's mental health had been scaled back.

"I've had to strip that back down," she said. "It's still there but it won't be as good as it was. We must make sure that the children get a good education but everybody is going to be working harder."

From left to right: Nicky Colk, Eunice Dziknu and Grant Cherry, helping to clean up Avenue Junior School before September. PIcture: Ella WilkinsonFrom left to right: Nicky Colk, Eunice Dziknu and Grant Cherry, helping to clean up Avenue Junior School before September. PIcture: Ella Wilkinson

Matthew Conway with his children Seren, Elfie and Arthur, helping to clean up Avenue Junior School's garden before the new term. Picture: Ella WilkinsonMatthew Conway with his children Seren, Elfie and Arthur, helping to clean up Avenue Junior School's garden before the new term. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Nania Poulson filling the cracks in the wall at Avenue Junior School, ahead of their new term. Picture: Ella WilkinsonNania Poulson filling the cracks in the wall at Avenue Junior School, ahead of their new term. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Amy Charman, with her children Tilly and Arti helping to revamp Avenue Junior School in time for Septmber. Picture: Ella WilkinsonAmy Charman, with her children Tilly and Arti helping to revamp Avenue Junior School in time for Septmber. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

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