The former headteacher of a Greenwich school at the centre of a row over its £438,000 deficit has publicly disputed the reasons for its sudden financial crisis.

Des Malone, the now retired ex-headteacher of the John Roan school in Maze Hill, has spoken out with a detailed statement after the school blamed its budget problem on a shortfall in sixth form students and rising costs.

Teachers staged a walkout on Tuesday – the second day of industrial action last month – as the dispute between teachers, parents and the school’s leadership continues to escalate.

In February, staff learnt the school’s three-year restructuring plan proposed a number of cuts, including 11 teacher redundancies and a narrowing of humanities subjects.

Last month the governing body claimed the new headteacher Nadine Powrie inherited the financial problem when she joined in September last year, but Mr Malone has disputed this – claiming she inherited a tight budget, but not a deficit one.

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John Roan teachers on the picket line.

Addressing the claim that fewer sixth form students has contributed to the deficit, Mr Malone said: “This is the biggest misconception being communicated to parents.”

In a letter to parents the school claimed it lost £400,000 because of a drop in the number of its own students staying on for sixth form and blamed last year’s GCSE results for the shortfall.

But Mr Malone said the school’s 2015-16 budget was based on 242 students entering the sixth form – not 350 as the school stated.

He added the money had not been lost because of the “phantom 108 students”, adding : “To conclude on this point, 6th form recruitment is not a reason for the declared deficit.”

In his statement Mr Malone sets out a variety of non-staffing costs which were not included in his original budget, including £73,926 spent on CCTV, £50,000 on ICT report restructuring, and a £95,000 increase in “off-site provision”.

When asked by News Shopper to comment on Mr Malone's accusations, the school declined.

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Teachers and parents on the picket line.

Pete Sinclair, a parent to two John Roan pupils, said the mood on the picket line was optimistic after Mr Malone released his statement the evening before.

The 56-year-old told News Shopper: “Des is a much loved and trusted figure and I think we all on both sides of the divide would say he made the school fantastic.

“The fact a respected figure like Des has come out and what he said substantially appears to confirm what we thought about the deficit.”

Asked what the latest development means for campaigning parents, he said: “A sense of vindication, a sense of wondering what are the school going to do next?

“It does seem to confirm to us the reason for the deficit appears to be extra spending decided on by Nadine Powrie and the governors which is all to do with non-staffing costs.”


A spokesman for the school said previously: “We are focussed on the job of preparing our students for important exams.

“Recently the governing body and headteacher submitted recovery proposals to the local authority to address a budget deficit from the previous year.

“The proposals have been approved and the school leadership, governing body, teachers, unions and local authority are working together to implement the measures so that all resources invested in the school deliver the best possible learning outcomes for the students.”