SCHOOLS in Staffordshire could face closure after council chiefs warned of a potential crisis around newly proposed funding arrangements.
Government proposals meant to simplify the way school receive funding poses a serious threat to some schools in Staffordshire, county councillors warned today, with small schools potentially suffering at the expense of other bigger schools in the area.
County councillor Liz Staples, cabinet member for education and skills said: “Our analysis of how the reforms would affect Staffordshire schools has rung alarm bells.
“As it stands, the changes could undermine the future viability of some schools and mean that a number of schools will see big increases in their budgets at the expense of others.”
She said in principle she was in agreement that school funding needed to be reformed in order to provide a fairer system, pointing out that Staffordshire was one of the areas with the lowest education funding in the country currently.
The reforms, which include changes to the way funding is determined, what schools have to pay for and what is centrally funded, and changes to the way pupils with additional needs are funded, has forced the county council to launch a major lobbying exercise to convince the Department of Education to rethink the plans.
County councillor Ian Parry, cabinet member for finance and transformation said the reforms didn’t take into account the diversity of schools in a county like Staffordshire.
“In some areas we operate a three tier system of first, middle and secondary schools, and we also have a lot of smaller, rural schools so needs and demands differ widely across the county,” he said. “We do think that with careful thought the Department of Education could make some relatively simple changes to their proposed approach, which will transform a potential crisis situation to one which we can work with locally.
“Our priority is the education of our children and we will stand with our schools to protect their future in any way we can.”
The School’s Forum, with whom council officers are already working to develop proposals, will meet tomorrow, before a formal consultation with schools in the council is launched.
Councillor Parry added: “We will do everything in our power to avoid a financial crisis in our schools.”
A letter from county council leader Philip Atkins has been sent to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, outlining the council’s concerns, can be read here.