Legacy Eases Financial Strain at Llandovery College
Llandovery College’s over-stretched finances started to recover in 2014-15, the charity’s newly published accounts show.
Huge efforts by governors, staff, parents and friends of the independent school — which was making unsustainable losses before a complete restructuring in 2012 — turned a consolidated loss of £387,906 in the year 2013-14 to a much smaller loss of £57,161 over the 13 months August 1st 2014 to August 31st 2015.
A legacy of £450,000 bolstered the resources, adding to trustees’ confidence that “the college has more than sufficient assets to support its operations for the foreseeable future”.
The more cheerful financial news follows some unflattering press reports of compensation sought by staff whose contracts were terminated as a consequence of the emergency restructuring. Last month (May) an employment tribunal upheld the latest case, an unfair dismissal claim by the former head of history, and ordered compensation of £15,000.
The college’s financial difficulties have not been helped by its location in one of the UK’s lowest-income regions, 200 miles from affluent South East England. The full termly fees, ranging from £2,875 in Year 1 to £5,600 in Year 13 for day pupils, and from £5,505 in Year 1 to £8,470 in Year 13 for boarders, are beyond the means of most local families.
Pupil numbers fell from 316 in July 2014 to 266 in September 2015, but academic results improved substantially, which could make the college more attractive to parents from beyond West Wales. At Advanced level in 2015, A*-C grades rose from 64.4% to 77.9%, and at GCSE A*-C grades improved from 78% to 84%. The top A* grades advanced too, from 3.0% to 8.2% at A level and from 11% to 18% at GCSE.
The college is an important employer for Llandovery, and provided more jobs in 2014-15, the full-time equivalent of 120, compared with 99 the year before. The governors, chaired by Professor Medwin Hughes, vice-chancellor of the University of Wales Trinity St David, say that the “growing success of our Nursery feeding our early years of Prep school will support our growth plans. The Nursery offering after-school club will also cement our connections with local schools and families.”
The attractive rural setting, and reputation for sporting prowess, may also help in the steep climb back.
Bursar Stephen Baldwin said he hoped the college would come very close to break-even in the current year. With pupil numbers more stable, staff were more confident and happy to remain in post. “Our goal is to deliver a great education which is enjoyable for pupils and staff,” said Mr Baldwin. “Seven of our A level students have unconditional offers of university places, so we think the breadth of their experience at the college is impressing admissions tutors.”
also printed in the Carmarthenshire Herald, June 17th 2016