A CRUNCH meeting saw governors and bosses of a Witney school plagued by problems come together to try to find a resolution.

Funding issues at The Henry Box School have been blamed for staff cutbacks which reportedly saw teachers reduced to tears in front of students.

The school has blamed the Government for the ‘relentless impact’ of overstretched budgets, and has informed some teachers they could be made redundant before the end of term.

Yesterday, governors – who say there has been a ‘breakdown in communication’ between themselves and the board at the MILL Academy Trust – discussed the difficulties and ways of moving forward.

Meanwhile, Witney MP Robert Courts has requested a meeting with the school about the situation.

The school’s interim chair of governors Ric Mellis said: “The governors are not satisfied that adequate information has been provided to them in the last few weeks.

“There’s been a breakdown in communication between the school, the MAT board and the governors."

Though the Department for Education insists a new national funding formula should see Oxfordshire schools £10.5m better off, Henry Box head Wendy Hemmingsley said that was not enough to cover increasing costs of staff pensions, National Insurance and teacher pay rises.

The secondary school and sixth form educates 1,226 students and lists about 70 members of teaching staff on its website, though it has not revealed how many face redundancy.

Ms Hemmingsley said: “Schools are facing a funding crisis and we are not alone in being affected by the shortage.

“There is progressively less money left for other things in school as more and more of the school funding is eaten up by rising employment costs.

“The Government’s policy is forcing schools like ours to make cuts year after year without any regard for the relentless impact this is having on people working really hard to educate students and make a difference to lives.

“Some school staff and governors have found this year’s cost reductions particularly hard to comprehend and the effect on wellbeing is quite marked.”

Ms Hemmingsley said the school had been gradually cutting spending in the past few years and had made ‘difficult decisions’.

She added: “We are reviewing our school leadership structures as a way to save staffing costs and by not replacing staff when they have left, which has helped to reduce the likelihood of redundancies.

“However it is very likely that by the end of this academic year the school may have to make further redundancies.”

Henry Box and Ms Hemmingsley were heaped with praise in January by Ofsted, which rated it ‘good’ but did note there had been a ‘difficult period of staff turbulence’.

The trust’s annual accounts published in January reveal £35,271 was spent on redundancy payments in 2016-17, which Ms Hemmingsley said were compulsory redundancies for non-teaching staff.

She did not reveal how many face redundancy this time or which departments they are from.

It is understood some staff, governors and parents do not agree with the cuts, however, and last month the school’s chair of governors and finance governor stepped down.

Other teachers are also said to have resigned in response to issues at the school – though numbers remain unclear.

Ms Hemmingsley, who is also chief executive of the trust, said: “It is unrealistic to assume that implementing staffing reductions and major changes in school operations will not have an effect on staff morale and wellbeing.”

One parent of a pupil, who asked not to be named, said: “There are lots of upset staff, governors and parents – it’s not good for pupils during exams.”