Shocking funding issues faced by a Thornbury school were laid bare in a documentary that aired this week.

The first episode of School, a six-part series studying the Castle School Education Trust (CSET), was broadcast on BBC2 on Tuesday night.

Three of the trust’s schools, Thornbury’s Castle, Marlwood in Alveston, and Mangotsfield, were followed over the course of an academic year and will each be given two episodes of the series.

The first episode focused on the Castle School and the issues it faces as a result of spending cuts.

Previously, £1 million worth of budget savings had to be made across CSET schools.

In the last academic year almost £300,000 had to be cut from Castle’s budget alone as government funding fell short of school operating costs.

The reduction of TLR (teaching and learning responsibility payments) led to to staff pay cuts of up to £6,000.

Staffing costs were eventually reduced by £426,000, but the school remains in deficit.

In the past the school has relied on cash reserves to resolve its budget deficit, but this money has now run out.

Will Roberts, chief executive officer of CSET, admitted he was at ‘the end of the road’ in terms of the school’s financial security.

“We are at the absolute limit of what we can deliver with the finance that’s available to us,” he said.

Castle teachers expressed concerns

about the impact the budget cuts were having on pupils.

Dr Andrew Grant, geography teacher and head of year seven, used to work alongside a non-teaching assistant whose sole focus was student welfare. He now does the job alone.

The school used to have six dedicated pastoral staff to look after the school’s 1,600 students but this has now been halved

“What kids need is teachers’ time, that’s all they want. And that is what has gone. Pastoral care is being particularly hard hit.”

He pointed to rising levels of misbehaviour and anxiety as evidence that the reduction in pastoral care was having a negative impact on the children at the school.

Science teacher Alex Street said government targets were adding to student’s anxiety.

“Schools are under ever increasing pressure to churn out the numbers. If we don’t churn out the right numbers, the heads lose their jobs.

“If OFSTED don’t like what’s happening the teachers get put under pressure. We try not to pass that stress onto the students, but it’s probably inevitable that some of that is passed down to students.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “To invest in our children’s education, training and care is one of the most important investments any country can make. The UK government spends the most in the G7 on education as a percentage of GDP – with the core schools budget reaching £43.5 billion by 2019-20.

“The IFS have confirmed that real terms per pupil funding for five to 16 year olds in 2020 will be more than 50 per cent higher than it was in 2000.”

“The Education Secretary recognises the budgeting challenges for schools. We have made available £1.3bn in funding since the last spending review and we are providing £500 million over the next two years so teachers on the main pay range can get a 3.5 per cent pay rise this year.”

School, commissioned by the BBC and the Open University has been produced by Label1, the team behind BBC Two documentary Hospital, which broadcast last year.

Marlwood school will be the subject of next week’s episode, broadcast on BBC2 at 9pm on Tuesday.