FALLING pupil numbers, poor performance and the inability of the government to find an academy sponsor all contributed to a Bradford school falling over £3 million into deficit, a panel of school bosses have been told.

But a forum of Bradford education bosses also heard that Hanson School is now moving “in the right direction,” with more stable leadership and improving results.

Earlier this year, it was announced that the Swain House school’s deficit had risen by over £1 million in one year, and now stood at a budget deficit of £3,015,838.

The school, which has around 1,500 pupils, had been ordered to be taken over by an academy chain by the Department for Education in 2011 due to underperformance.

Since then two academy chains, the Schools Partnership Trust and the Wakefield City Academy Trust, have announced they would take over the school, only to pull out at the last minute.

And in 2015, it was put into special measures after a highly critical Ofsted report. All this has put off potential academy sponsors.

Yesterday, the head of children’s services at Bradford Council, Michael Jameson, was called before the Bradford Schools Forum to give members details of how the school came to be in such a dire financial position.

The forum is made up of heads of all types of schools through the district. Mr Jameson told them the school had been hit by a mix of falling pupils numbers in recent years, which saw it lose £1 million in funding between 2015 and 2017, higher numbers of pupils with special educational needs than other schools, and financial issues that stemmed from the Pulse Fitness gym begin based on the school’s land.

He said the Regional Schools Commissioner’s attempts to academise the school had so far been a “failure.”

But he said things were looking up at Hanson, referring to improved exam results last summer and a recent Ofsted report that lifted the school out of special measures.

He said head Richard Woods had brought stable leadership to the school and had “gained the respect and support of pupils, staff and governors and has raised expectations of pupils’ behaviour and progress.”

And the Gorse Academies Trust was working to help improve the school, although it still remained without an academy sponsor.

Mr Jameson said: “The attempts to academise the school have been a bit of a failure. There have been incidents where potential sponsors have withdrawn.

“It is a large school, and had falling rolls. There were also issues with PFI contracts and the Pulse gym on site.

“This all needs to be resolved between the Department for Education, the Council and the Regional Schools Commissioner. There is ongoing dialogue to see how we can resolve this moving forward. Things are going in the right direction.”

He said the school had reduced its spend in the past year, and was undergoing both an educational audit and a “value for money’ audit.