A SECONDARY school with a deficit of almost £4 million has been described as an “unexploded bomb” for Bradford Council’s finances.

The ever rising deficit of Hanson School in Swain House was once again raised during a meeting of Bradford Council, with one Councillor pointing out that its financial woes could prove a major issue for Council budgets in the future.

Recent figures predict that Hanson, one of the biggest schools in the District, is likely to face a deficit of £4.1 million by September.

And at a meeting of Bradford Council’s Corporate Scrutiny Committee last week fears were raised that cost could soon be left to the taxpayer to deal with.

After being placed in special measures several years ago, the Government ordered Hanson, which is run by Bradford Council, be taken over by an academy chain in a bid to turn around its fortunes.

Since then two academy chains have signed up to take over the school, but both have since pulled out, leaving the school and its 1,500 pupils in limbo.

The school has moved out of special measures, but work to find an academy sponsor has continued.

Because the move would be a forced academisation, any deficit belonging to the school would be transferred to the Council should it become an academy.

At the meeting on Thursday Councillor Jeanette Sunderland (Lib Dem, Idle and Thackley) once again raised her concerns that not enough was being done to tackle the issue.


In the past year she has repeatedly called for more information into how the school’s deficit is being dealt with, only to be told that officers were working on the details could not be released into the public domain.

She said: “If Hanson academises that debt will stay with the Council. What steps are we taking to deal with that?

“Where in the Council’s budget is £4 million in case this happens?”

She was told there was no allocated funds in the budget to deal with the deficit, and it would have to be dealt with by the Council’s reserve funds.

Gladys Rhodes White, Interim Children’s Services Director, added: “I don’t have a magic answer to this.

“We are working with Hanson - there is no certainty that the school will academise.

“We’re working with the headteacher to help the school make the improvements they need to make to have the confidence they would need to remain a maintained school.

“We are helping them to manage their resources.

“But I don’t have an answer about what would happen if the school does academise.”

Cllr Sunderland replied; “This is an unexploded bomb for the Council.

“It is about time we, as members, had something written and handed to us telling us what is going on and who is doing what.

“This now needs a political solution. Officers are wringing their hands saying ‘lets hope this doesn’t happen’ but we need to remember we don’t have £4 million to deal with the fallout.

“We need a financial report showing us what we are dealing with.

“People aren’t working hard enough to solve this. This is one of the biggest schools in the district. It can’t be allowed to continue to fail.”

The Committee requested that a full and detailed report dealing with the financial circumstances relating to the £4m overspend be presented to them in the coming months. However, they were informed some of it may be confidential, and would not be able to be passed on to the press or public. This included a contract between the school and a third party operating on the school site.

The school’s deficit was £1.86 million in 2016/17, and leapt to £3m last summer.

For a number of years the Council has been working closely with the Gorse Academies Trust, which has been working with the school to bring about improvements.the school, the Regional Schools Commission and the Department of Education to try and find a solution to the school’s woes.