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Funding changes are bad news for rural schools - Peter Luff MP
CHANGES to the way primary schools are funded are cause for concern to small rural schools, according to Mid-Worcestershire MP Peter Luff.
Mr Luff urged parents, teachers and governors to campaign against changes to the funding formula, but urged them not to panic.
His advice follows news some of the county’s smallest schools could lose nearly 40 per cent of their budget under government proposals to simplify the way funding is distributed.
Smaller, rural schools appear to be the worse affected by the changes.
Mr Luff recently held meetings with Dr Tony Evans, the headteacher of Prince Henry’s High School, Evesham, and Worcestershire county councillor Liz Eyre, cabinet member for children and young people’s social care.
He has now promised to make vigorous representations to Government.
“This is a well-intentioned policy that has backfired,” he said. “A welcome attempt by the Government to simplify complex arrangements has produced unexpected and unwanted results.
“The county council is being forced to change the way it distributes the cash it receives for education in Worcestershire.
“It has consulted on a means of doing so that is the least disruptive. However, the changes being imposed by the Government mean that some schools look set to be very big losers.”
As previously reported in your Worcester News, the new funding formula takes effect from April 2013, although local authorities will be allowed to protect school budgets for the next two years.
Mr Luff said the proposals were unrelated to the wider issue of fairer funding for all of Worcestershire’s schools. But he admitted that the Vale of Evesham would be particularly hard hit.
“The already underfunded schools of the Evesham area would lose £1.3 million a year from April 2015 if we don’t sort this mess out,” he said.
“This is a complex issue and schools will be very worried, but I am absolutely confident that one or two simple changes to the Government’s policy can sort out the mess.
"It does though emphasise the importance of the underlying injustice – if our county got fairer funding for its schools as a whole, if it got more money overall, then it would be much easier to cope with this particular difficulty.”