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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Shake-up means some Cumbrian schools face up to 30 per cent budget cut

Some Cumbrian schools will lose up to 30 per cent of their income as part of a proposed budgets shake-up.

Duncan Fairbairn photo
Duncan Fairbairn

The winners and losers under the new regime became clear as one union leader warned that the impact for some schools could be “devastating”.

Cumbria County Council is backing a formulae which senior councillors say will avert a schools cash crisis.

Council leader Eddie Martin insisted that the authority’s efforts had persuaded the government to cushion the impact.

The current system gives extra money to smaller schools because running costs per pupil are higher. It can include a lump sum of up to £200,000. Under the formulae schools would get just £70,000.

The biggest losers will be Beacon Hill School in Aspatria, which faces a 30 per cent cut in funding (£342,000), while Solway Community Technology College in Silloth will see an 18.5 per cent drop, and 17 per cent will be sliced from Workington’s Southfield Technology College. Also facing a cut are Maryport’s Ellenborough and Ewanrigg Infants (a 30 per cent reduction), and Grasslot Infants (down 21 per cent).

Conversely, many schools in the county will get more cash, including Kingmoor Junior School, (a 16 per cent increase), and Seaton Academy, where the budget will rocket by 21 per cent.

The government has promised to phase in the changes beyond 2015.

Council chiefs say they have lobbied hard for changes to the new funding rules and their “proactive approach” has helped win some key commitments from the government.

Most importantly, they say, the government has promised to extend its “minimum funding guarantee” (which will limit the amount of cash schools could lose) beyond their original date of 2015.

The authority stressed that it backed the formulae giving a lump sum of £70,000 per school after it was supported by 72 per cent of local schools.

Council Leader Eddie Martin said: “I think with the hard work of many people around the county lobbying government we have averted a crisis for Cumbrian schools.

“I look forward to getting Cumbria’s point across strongly in the review that the DfE has promised.”

Councillor Duncan Fairbairn, responsible for schools, added: “This decision keeps the variation in budgets under greater control.”

But John Reardon, of the NUT teaching union, said the new budgets had the potential to “decimate” the quality of education in some schools, adding: “It will result in a significant number of job losses and a massive reduction in quality in terms of what these schools can offer”.

His fellow NUT official Alan Rutter added: “At the end of the day schools are suffering successive cuts from local government.”

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