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Head in cash crisis works for nothing

The head of a small school in east Yorkshire has agreed to work for nothing and her deputy is on half pay while the school struggles with a financial crisis.

The head, Rosalyn Spencer, set up Oaklands Small School in Airmyn, near Goole, in September 1993 because she wanted her own children, aged 12 and seven, to be taught in smaller classes.

The 20-pupil primary and secondary school, which has two full-time and two part-time staff, is affiliated to Human Scale Education, which believes in a holistic approach to learning with equal emphasis placed on creativity, emotional development and academic achievement. Patrons of the organisation include Birmingham's chief education officer, Tim Brighouse, and environmental campaigner Jonathon Porritt.

For the past three years, the school has received Pounds 10,000 from the Tudor Trust, a grant-giving body. The rest of the cash comes from fund-raising and financial contributions from parents. Those who cannot afford to pay help out in other ways, by maintaining the former village-school building, cleaning or doing voluntary teaching.

Recently, however, debts have started to mount and the school faces closure unless other sources of funding can be found.

Deputy head Marjorie Law, who takes home just Pounds 80 a week after agreeing that her salary should be halved, said: "I'd feel so sorry for the children who have benefited so much from the school if it closes. We'll do everything we can to keep it going."

Alison Houston, whose four-year-old son, Kingsley, attends the school's playgroup and will start in the reception class in September, said: "Oaklands has so much to offer that you don't get in the state system. Things are taught in a really fun way. I'm sure we'll struggle on somehow, even if it means moving from house to house."

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