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Head resigns to help school budget

He takes early retirement to save pound;13,000 a year and avoid making a teacher redundant

ONE OF the country's most high profile primary heads is sacrificing his job to help balance the school budget.

Chris Davis, of Queniborough primary, Leicestershire, a former chairman of the National Primary Headteachers' Association, said that the only way to solve the school's significant deficit was by resigning at Christmas after 22 years' service.

Mr Davis, 57, earns pound;57,150 a year. Employing a part-time head will save around pound;13,000 a year.

"The county council said the only option was teacher redundancy. But I had a plan up my sleeve," said Mr Davis. "I just had to convince them that the school could run with an acting head. Usually that's only done in extremis."

As term ends at the 150-pupil school, he will pack up his two guitars, photographs, certificates, and two decades of paperwork.

"I can't say the idea of leaving appealed to me very much," he said. "Even when I handed in my resignation, the letter did not want to leave my hand.

It has taken a while to get used to the idea. I'm not looking forward to my last day. It'll be very poignant."

The timing of the departure is particularly difficult as this will be his first Christmas without his wife, who died last January.

Queniborough was predicted to be pound;44,000 over budget by April next year, because of falling rolls. Within five years, it faced a potential Pounds 129,000 deficit.

Mr Davis blamed low funding. In Leicestershire, this is calculated using a formula that multiplies the number of teachers by the average primary salary. But staff retention rates at Queniborough have been high, so in recent years all its teachers have been on the upper pay spine.

There are 360 new houses being built just outside the school's catchment area. But while 25 per cent of Queniborough's pupils come from there, the local authority would not allow the school to budget for an increase. Mr Davis still believes this will guarantee the future.

"The school will be fine," he said. "And I might do something completely different. I'm hoping something will appear and just feel right."

His plans include encouraging schools to form links overseas. And he will continue his work for the primary heads' association.

A spokeswoman for Leicestershire council said: "We have worked with Queniborough over a number of years to identify strategies to ensure that the school has appropriate and realistic plans for their budget. Additional funding has been made available."

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