Government’s latest ‘little extra’ for Stroud schools won’t address crisis
News that Gloucestershire County Council has shelved plans to transfer funding out of school budgets, has been welcomed by David Drew MP, but he adds that it’s only a ‘little' extra’ that will do little to ease the financial crisis faced by schools across Stroud.
GCC currently faces a £3.2 million overspend in its high needs budget, and had asked Education Secretary Damian Hinds to decide whether to plug £1. 7million of it with money from central government allocated for the main schools budget .
But when Damian Hinds belatedly recognised the crisis in Special Needs Funding and has made £1.35 million available to Gloucestershire schools, GCC withdrew its request.
David Drew MP said:
“The government has, at last, listened to headteachers, parents and education experts and is finally starting to recognise that schools face a financial crisis.
“I welcome the announcement of extra funds. Transferring funds from schools’ core budget would have been another blow to Stroud schools and children who are already facing budget constraints.
“But this is only a ‘little extra’ and there is still a long way to go. The deficit in high needs funding in Gloucestershire is £3 million and is expected to be in deficit again next year.
“Funding for special needs education has been cut in other ways, with schools expected to bear more of the costs themselves, in the face of rising demand. There are also still too many children being excluded from Gloucestershire schools, and this modest announcement will make little difference to that.
“In 2019 I will continue to pressure the government to truly deliver fair funding for our children.”
Andrew Harris, headteacher at Katharine Lady Berkeley School, welcomed the news:
“We are pleased that the Secretary of State has recognised the serious funding pressure on the provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities by making additional funding available for these vulnerable children.
"This announcement will mean that, for 2019/20, funding will not have to be taken from the allocations for the lowest funded mainstream schools, which are facing their own funding pressures, to top up the high needs budget.”