The first year of the school’s operation (2016/2017) proved to be a great success. The school increased its student numbers, improved student retention, hired additional qualified teachers and established new educational partnerships. (Read more about the background of the project and the initial results here.)
Unfortunately, contextual factors made it challenging to operate the grammar school in a sustainable way. Disadvantaged young people were increasingly choosing to pursue vocational routes over grammar education, due to state scholarships provided exclusively in vocational schools. The continous drop in student numbers began to cause a serious financial deficit for the school.
A potential solution arose when the Hungarian educational authorities invited the school to participate in its „technikum” (NVQ) pilot programme that would offer an opportunity for students to complete their A-levels as well as gaining a vocational qualification. Importantly, the school could also offer financial support to enrolled students. The pilot started with a preparatory year in 2019, aiming to become fully operational from 2020 onwards.
The school continued to support grammar students whilst it integrated into the new programme. Unfortunately, due to a series of delays and legislative issues, full integration was pushed back a year. At the same time, the financial support previously provided by the government to help disadvantaged grammar students was withdrawn, meaning the school incurred additional costs for this provision (e.g. extra meals, transport, mentoring support etc.). These events caused a significant deficit in the school’s budget for 2020/2021 and led to crisis management measures being taken.
The Foundation provided professional support throughout this process, along with financial support to cover the costs of a financial audit and the recuitment of a Chief Operating Officer (COO). The audit aims to provide a reliable, independent assessment of the financial standing of the school, which will form an important element of its stability planning. Going forward, the COO will manage the financial stability of the school, as well as implementing fundraising activities, optimising internal processes, and liaising with external partners.
Photo credit: Facebook page of Dr. Ambedkar School
Banner photo credit: Northfolk on Unsplash