Copeland schools 'could lose thousands'
Last updated at 11:25, Thursday, 20 September 2012
SCHOOLS in Copeland could lose thousands of pounds from their budgets because of changes in the way government money is shared out.
Both primary and secondary schools are in the firing line, with some, such as Kells Infants and Distington Community School, each standing to lose around £70,000. Whitehaven School could lose about £400,000 off its budget.
Cumbria County Council officials admit the changes could force some schools in the county to cut teacher numbers but say their hands are tied.
Schools received details of the proposed changes on Monday and some stand to gain – St Begh’s Juniors could get a 17 per cent rise equating to almost £154,000, Jericho 12.3 per cent (£84,000) and Beckermet 15.2 per cent (£51,000).
Whitehaven School headteacher Lynette Norris: said: “We are delighted for the primaries, which seem on the whole to benefit from the new proposals. Although it is too early to say, the projections do look very disappointing for Whitehaven School. We realise these are only projections and we are working with the local authority to minimise impact to all concerned.’’
Copeland MP Jamie Reed said: “Our schools are the front line of the battle to turn our local economy around. Nothing is more important with regard to our success.
“There can be no doubt that some of our local schools will miss out and find themselves in a worse financial position as a result – this means that schools, their staff and their communities will suffer, but most of all, the pupils will feel the brunt of this.’’
The Government has a new formula setting out how the council distributes £260million a year to Cumbrian schools. Ministers say it is fairer, more logical and transparent. But it gives councils such as Cumbria much less leeway in allocating the cash. Currently, Cumbria gives more to smaller schools because they tend to have smaller classes and the running costs per pupil are higher.
Although the new rules apply from April, there will be a two-year transition period during which no school’s budget can fall by more than 1.5 per cent. The full impact will be felt from April 2015.
The council is calling for an extension to the transition period and county MPs are set to lobby education secretary Michael Gove over the funding changes.
County Council leader Eddie Martin warned: “This is a massive issue for Cumbria and I strongly believe we need much longer than two years to implement these changes.
“There will be a significant number of smaller schools, primarily rural, that could lose between six and 30 per cent of their funding. It doesn’t need me to say what the impact of that might be. It’s a policy that makes sense if you’re sitting in London, where you don’t have schools that are isolated and a long way from anywhere else, but it doesn’t make sense in Cumbria. And two years isn’t long enough.”
It is feared that in Cumbria it will be smaller schools and those in less affluent areas that could suffer most. Having had government cash topped up by council lump sums they could severely lose out.
Nina Heron, head teacher at Distington Community School, which has 106 pupils, said yesterday: “As a small school it will be devastating for us.’’
The new funding formula takes account of pupil numbers, deprivation, premises costs and the numbers of special needs pupils, those in care and those whose first language is not English. The lump sum the council pays to each school must be the same regardless of its size. If that lump sum is high, small schools gain but large schools lose out. If it is a relatively small amount, big schools gain while smaller schools lose.
County officials are consulting schools on having a lump sum of around £50,000, £70,000 or £85,000. They believe that setting it within this range will cause the least disruption or potential harm. Funding for sixth-forms is not affected by the changes, nor is the pupil premium (additional money based on the number of pupils receiving free school meals).
At many schools staff costs can account for around 90 per cent of a school’s budget.
The National Union of Teachers’ local representative Mike Cunningham, who is also executive officer of the Primary Heads Association, said the changes will make an impact on whether a school is viable or not, but in a rural county its not just about the numbers, it’s about the community. “I will be fighting for our members and for our schools as hard as I can on this,” he said. “There are fears it will have an impact on the opportunities for teachers and every employment area connected with schools. The two year ‘cushion’ for bringing it in is something,’’ he says, “but the county is right to ask for an extension on this.’’
The council’s cabinet makes a final decision on November 8. But Mr Martin warns: “Whichever model the cabinet decides on, there will be losers.”
If the lump sum is set at £50,000, 59 schools will see their budgets fall by more than six per cent. In Copeland these would include KELLS INFANTS by minus 15.9 per cent, DISTINGTON COMMUNITY (-14.9 per cent), WABERTHWAITE CofE (-11 per cent), St BRIDGET’S CofE, Parton, (-10.9 per cent), St BEGA’S CofE, Eskdale (-9 per cent), LOWCA (-8.5 per cent), WHITEHAVEN (-8 per cent), VALLEY (-6.5 per cent), MILLOM (-6/5 per cent) and BRANSTY (-6.3 per cent). (The biggest loser would be Ellenborough & Ewanrigg Infants at Maryport (-34.1 per cent or £128,000). Schools in Copeland that would see their budget rise by more than 6 per cent include: St BEGH’S JUNIORS (+17 per cent), St JAMES’ PRIMARY (+14.8 per cent), JERICHO (+12.3), BECKERMET (+11.7 per cent), St BEES VILLAGE (+11.7 per cent), St MARY’S CATHOLIC PRIMARY (+11.4 per cent), St PATRICK’S CATHOLIC, Cleator Moor (+10.2 per cent), St BRIDGET’S RC SCHOOL, Egremont (+6.6 per cent).
If the lump sum is set at £70,000, 31 schools will see their budgets fall by more than 6 per cent. In Copeland these include: KELLS INFANTS by minus 13.4 per cent, DISTINGTON (-12.3 per cent), WHITEHAVEN (-9.8 per cent), VALLEY (-6.7 per cent), St BRIDGET’S CofE (-6.5 per cent). Schools in Copeland that would see their budget rise by more than 6 per cent include: St BEGH’S JUNIORS (+16.4 per cent), St JAMES’ PRIMARY (+15.4 per cent), BECKERMET (+15.2 per cent), St MARY’S CATHOLIC PRIMARY (+14.2 per cent), St JAMES’ CATHOLIC PRIMARY, Millom (+12.3 per cent), St BEES VILLAGE (+12.3 per cent), GOSFORTH CofE (+12 per cent), St PATRICK’S CATHOLIC (+10.5 per cent), BOOKWELL (+10.4 per cent), BLACK COMBE (+8.3 per cent), MOOR ROW (+8.2 per cent), St JAMES’ CofE INFANTS (+7.4 per cent)), St BRIDGET’S RC SCHOOL (+7.2 per cent), SEASCALE (+7.2 per cent), FRIZINGTON COMMUNITY PRIMARY (+6.8 per cent), MORESBY PRIMARY (+6.6 per cent), LAMPLUGH CofE (+6.3 per cent), and THORNHILL (+6.1 per cent).
First published at 11:07, Thursday, 20 September 2012
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
Have your say
It is sad to see funding being cut for any educational establishment. Especially at such an important stage of development as primary. In an age where young people are increasingly subject to costs of education. This will be yet another disadvantage for the younger generation.
Interesting choice of words Mr. Read: 'front line', 'battle'. Does Mr. Read view this as a war, to be fought and won or lost? Whatever happened to tact and diplomacy, discussion and debate, compromise and resolutions?
Again, Mr. Read mentions 'children suffering'. Surely our exposure to the suffering of children has to do with famine, starvation, children dying of disease and neglect. The word proportional Mr. Read, is not confined solely to representation.