CONTROVERSIAL changes to education funding could lead to job cuts and school closures, education chiefs fear.
The changes - over which Staffordshire County Council first raised concerns in September - are designed to simplify school funding arrangements with a single pot made available to all schools, regardless of size.
Education bosses in the county feared this would see some school budgets increasing while others suffered a potentially damaging decrease.
Previously budgets were based on the size of the school and the number of pupils attending, with schools able to apply for additional funding based on
around 40 different criteria including things like the number of special needs pupils at the school, or on free meals.
Howard Stemp is a member of the Staffordshire Schools Forum and chair of governors at Wolgarston High, Penkridge and St Leonard’s First School, Dunston.
He said staff cuts and school closures were a possibility in the future.
“It’s possible, there have been cuts in some schools already. We have got to be extra careful in our expenditure so that we ensure we maintain the level of teaching throughout schools.
"The last thing in the world we want to do is to cut staff but at the end of the day a large percentage of the budget goes on staff.
“We have a lot of smaller schools with under 100 pupils and perhaps it’s diffi- cult to make two ends meet whereas with a large school economies of scale can prevail. But we have to serve our local communities and if you take the school from communities what’s left?”
Schools are also waiting to see what impact the new company run by Capita will have.
Staffordshire County Council has agreed to take responsibility for setting budgets for all schools in the county for the 2013-14 period in order to ease the transition to the new arrangements.
They have also secured a commitment from the Government to review the changes in 2014.
County councillor Ian Parry, cabinet member for education, said the county council was working hard to minimise the impact of the new arrangements.
“Funding to schools needs to be reformed, but we also need to ensure that the future viability of some of our smaller schools is safeguarded.”