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One in six Devon children face having school funding cut

PUBLISHED: 16:00 14 February 2017 | UPDATED: 17:01 14 February 2017

North Devon Council will debate education funding at a special meeting  on February 15.

North Devon Council will debate education funding at a special meeting on February 15.

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New national education funding formula offers more cash for schools, but most will actually see a reduction in grant funding

More than six in every 10 Devon children face having their school’s funding cut, the county’s education chief has warned.

Devon is set to get an extra £0.4million more under the new national formula, which has undergone a second round of consultation that ends on March 22.

But the allocation of funding around the county actually means that 61.9 per cent face having their school’s funding cut – including more than a third of North Devon secondary schools.

And pupils would still be funded at £268 a head less than the current national average.

Among those schools worst hit are South Molton Community College and Chulmleigh Community College. Each could lose as much as £90,000 a year.

Councillor James McInnes, the county council’s cabinet member for schools, said: “Fair Funding was always about schools in Devon getting more money – not having money taken away.

“No school in Devon should lose money as a result of these proposals.

“Devon’s under-resourced schools have produced outstanding results for long enough and now deserve to be properly funded so they can give our children an even better education.

“Our MPs have already taken part in a debate in Westminster on education funding in Devon, amid warnings that they will not support this formula.”

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “We are consulting on how we propose to weight funding and we know that it is important that we get the formulae and system right so that every pound of the investment we make in education has the greatest impact.

“The consultation will run until 22 March 2017, and we are keen to hear from as many schools, governors, local authorities and parents as possible.

“We recognise that schools are facing cost pressures, which is why we will continue to provide advice and support to help them use their funding in cost effective ways, including improving the way they buy goods and services, so they get the best possible value for their pupils.”

MP to attend council meeting

North Devon Council will debate the issue at a special meeting of its executive committee tomorrow (Wednesday).

The council has this afternoon confirmed that North Devon MP Peter Heaton Jones has accepted an invitation to attend the meeting, called by Cllr David Worden, who warned schools were ‘likely to go bankrupt’ as a result of the funding shake-up.

Mr McInnes will also be attending the meeting at the Brynsworthy Environment Centre, as will Michael Johnson, executive head of Chulmleigh Community College and Andrew Finney, principal of South Molton Community College.

Council leader Des Brailey said: “I have invited the MP to the meeting tomorrow and he has agreed to come along. He will be able to update the Executive on school funding discussions with ministers and how he is fighting on our behalf to try and achieve a better outcome for North Devon.”

Mr Worden, said: “The proposed new formula which the Government claims should help redress the balance between urban areas and rural ones is actually making the situation worse in many North Devon schools.

“Devon County Council is also removing top up finance for small schools and plans on taking £33 per student from the budget for high needs students. The education of our students is at stake and unless action is taken schools will be going bankrupt.”

County council urged to reconsider £2.2m ‘cut’

And on Thursday, Liberal Democrat county councillors will urge the county council to re-consider switching £2.2m from the main school budget to the ‘high needs’ education pot for more vulnerable children.

They argue that the extra cut, worth £33 per child, will pile even more pressure on headteachers.

But the council says the money is needed to cover a shortfall caused by increased numbers and costs.

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