School club forced to relocate over 'shocking' rent increase - The Redditch Standard
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17th Aug, 2022

School club forced to relocate over 'shocking' rent increase

Ashleigh Osborne 20th Jul, 2022 Updated: 20th Jul, 2022

A LOCAL out-of-school club is relocating after facing a ‘shocking’ rent increase.

Funzone, which is held at Walkwood Middle School, is a popular out-of-school club which has been running since 1998.

The school have informed the Funzone team that as of September 1st this year the rent would be increased from £12,000 a year to £68,000.

Mandy Lawler who works at Funzone said: “I understand the current economic situation the school face but we all face it, so I was shocked when I received notification of this.

“I have contacted the school Governors to alert them to the fact that there is no way that we can afford this amount without increasing our fees by 40%.

“They recognise that the ‘situation is not ideal’, however, will not reconsider.

“I would not be comfortable to increase our fees so much during a cost of living crisis, as I feel that this will mean that we are unaffordable for many parents.”

Mandy said the team are currently looking for alternative solutions to allow them to continue to offer childcare in this area.

She added: “The Funzone team are devastated at the position we are currently in, having provided this service at Walkwood School for 24 years.

“We have always been recognised as a ‘Good’ setting by Ofsted and we have always done our very best to give the children who attend a great experience. We hope that we can continue doing this, in one way or another. ”

A spokesperson from Walkwood Middle School said: “Funzone has received significant deductions on its lettings rate in recent years. The school cannot continue to subside a commercial enterprise, and doing so would be taking away finance that is intended for our pupils’ education.

“A classroom can be hired for £13 an hour, but Funzone are currently paying £2.30.

“We are pained that we must increase our charges for lettings but have no alternative. We communicated this matter to Funzone in early June.

“The Education and Skills Funding Agency notes that academy schools should recover full costs for chargeable services. Funzone is a profit-making enterprise. “The money the school is given needs to be fully spent on Walkwood’s pupils.”

Rachel Maclean, MP for Redditch, said: “Having visited Funzone myself and seen first-hand the excellent activities on offer, I am deeply concerned about the future of this outstanding provision.

“I have heard from many parents who are understandably concerned and stressed as they rely on Funzone. But it’s not just that, their children love going there.

“I am already in contact with Funzone and I am doing everything I can to help them at this difficult time.

“Whilst I can’t promise my involvement will achieve the outcome Funzone and parents want, I hope a solution can be found that works for everyone involved.”

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