small primary schools \threatened by funding reform\
Last Updated : GMT 08:43:32
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Small primary schools \'threatened by funding reform\'

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Small primary schools \'threatened by funding reform\'

London - Arabstoday

The Local Government Association warned that the future of tiny schools with fewer than 75 pupils could be threatened by the decision to introduce a national funding formula. Councils currently have the discretion to top-up budgets for village schools which can be more costly to run because of the expense of maintaining buildings, paying staff and buying equipment for a small number of pupils. In a little-noticed move, the Government is now planning to hand small schools a grant of between £100,000 and £150,000 directly from Whitehall on top of the cash they get for each pupil. The Department for Education insist it would provide schools with “extra protection from falling pupil numbers” as they receive a lump sum irrespective of declining rolls. But David Simmons, chairman of the LGA children’s and young people board, feared it may not be enough for some schools and would remove councils’ ability to provide extra revenue to safeguard the very smallest primaries. “What we are concerned about is that the new arrangements could affect the viability of small schools,” he said. \"Like village pubs, these schools are at the very heart of rural communities and it is vital that they are protected. “At the moment, it is down to the discretion of local authorities as to how much of their budget is committed to small schools. This is about imposing a national one-size-fits-all approach and we are concerned as to the consequences at a local level.” Last year, as many as 2,388 schools in England had fewer than 100 pupils. Most are primaries in rural areas. Currently, they receive a certain amount for each pupil they admit. Councils traditionally top this up with additional funding. A Government document published last week – setting out a new-style school funding system – proposed plans to “remove the current adjustment for very small schools” with fewer than 75 pupils. It said that providing all schools will a lump sum would be “consistent with the encouragement of a market system, because growing schools would have greater protection”. This amount – probably up to £150,000 – would be on top of minimum per pupil funding. But Prof John Howson, vice-president of the Liberal Democrat Education Association and director of the research company DataforEducation.info, said that many small schools could lose out under the reforms. “Those pupils who attend their local primary school should not be forced to attend some large education factory miles away just because the Secretary of State prefers to let market forces decide whether a school is viable rather than a local community,” he said. But a spokesman for the Department for Education said the comments represented a “complete misunderstanding of the funding formula changes”. “The minimum funding guarantee is the buffer that protects all schools from significant changes in their budgets and this will continue for all schools regardless of size,” she said. “Small schools will continue to receive extra protection from falling pupil numbers as our new system will mean the lump sum subsidy they receive will be protected if their pupil numbers decrease.”

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