THERE’S TIME TO RESOLVE “VERY WORRYING” LOCAL SCHOOL FUNDING CONCERNS SAYS MP
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THERE’S TIME TO RESOLVE “VERY WORRYING” LOCAL SCHOOL FUNDING CONCERNS SAYS MP

News that a new funding formula that distributes cash to schools within Worcestershire could threaten the future of many smaller schools has been describes as “a serious cause for concern, but a problem we can solve” by Peter Luff, the MP for Mid Worcestershire.

Peter met the Headteacher of Prince Henry’s High School Evesham, Dr Tony Evans, on Wednesday to discuss the problems in the two Evesham school pyramids. On Thursday he met County Councillor Liz Eyre (cabinet member for children and young people’s social care) and officers at County Hall who briefed him in detail on the background to the changes and what needs to be done to address them.

Peter commented,

“It will be a worrying period for all the schools adversely affected, but I am sure we will get a solution. I am now making vigorous representations to government, supporting those from the schools and the County Council.

“This is a well-intentioned policy that has backfired. A welcome attempt by the government to simplify complex arrangements has produced unexpected and unwanted results.

“The County Council is being forced to change the way it distributes the cash it receives for education in Worcestershire. It has consulted on a means of doing so that is the least disruptive. However, the changes being imposed by the government mean that some schools look set to be very big losers.

“But very little alters in the short term as all school budget changes will be capped and all schools will receive the minimum funding guarantee for the next two years. The problems, if they are not addressed, will only really begin to hit schools in April 2015.

“My message to governors, parents and teachers is “Worry, campaign, but don’t panic - we have time to sort it out and no one wants or intends this to happen. It’s a process failure, not a fundamental problem”.

Peter also emphasised that this issue is unrelated to the wider issue of fairer funding for all of Worcestershire’s schools, saying,

“The policy that’s worrying schools right now is not about discrimination against Worcestershire, which will get exactly the same amount of money for schools it was always going to get. But there are areas of the county that will win and areas that will lose. The way the formula works means that the Vale of Evesham is particularly hard hit.

“It’s also true that the figures schools have seen so far do not include the additional money that comes from the Pupil Premium or the recognition of the cost of teaching pupils with more demanding needs. But it’s still true that the already underfunded schools of the Evesham area would lose £1.3 million a year from April 2015 if we don’t sort this mess out.

“This is a complex issue and schools will be very worried, but I am absolutely confident that one or two simple changes to the government’s policy can sort out the mess. It does though emphasise the importance of the underlying injustice – if our county got fairer funding for its schools as a whole, if it got more money overall, then it would be much easier to cope with this particular difficulty.”

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