County schools set to lose tens of thousands of pounds from budgets

County schools set to lose tens of thousands of pounds from budgets

Windmill Primary School headteacher Lynn Knapp in the Year 1 play area with, from left, Cory Williamson, Isabel Miskin and Merle Cox

Windmill Primary School headteacher Lynn Knapp in the Year 1 play area with, from left, Cory Williamson, Isabel Miskin and Merle Cox

First published in Education Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

MORE than half of Oxfordshire’s schools are set to be tens of thousands of pounds worse off under Government changes to the funding process.

Classroom resources and play equipment could all take a hit as schools struggle with lower budgets.

Over the next two years the Government is reducing the number of criteria by which school funding is given out.

The result is that 152 primary and secondary schools will see reduced allocations.

A further 115 will see more money under the new funding scheme for 2013/14 and 2014/15.

But to help offset the cuts to the losing schools, £2m of the extra money going to the gaining schools will be redistributed.

That means no school will lose more than 1.5 per cent of its budget, but no school will gain more than 1.8 per cent.

Oxford East MP Andrew Smith is among those to raise concerns about the fairness of the system.

He said: “If you look at the city schools, those serving the most disadvantaged areas are going to suffer worse and the overall effect of this is to cancel out the benefits of the Pupil Premium.

“They are more than taking away with one hand what they are giving with another and I am very concerned it is hitting the schools that need resources most.”

Rose Hill Primary School is set to lose £23,000 once adjustments are taken into account.

Vice-chairman of governors Robin Gill said: “What has been happening is the county has been targeting certain amounts of funding to schools which serve the most deprived areas. Michael Gove has now ruled that out, and it’s been extremely difficult for the county council to replicate it.”

Windmill Primary in Oxford will also lose in the region of £23,000 at a time when it has to find money to kit out new classrooms.

Headteacher Lynn Knapp said: “The things we would have to start to remove are things we would put in as extras like workshops.

“We have a lovely new outdoor play area for Year 1 last year which cost about £20,000 – had we not had that money in the budget we would not have been able to do that.”

Cheney School is hoping to offset the £113,000 it is set to lose with additional funding coming through academy status, and income from renting out school premises.

Headteacher Jolie Kirby said: “We will need to look very carefully at things like how we use our resources for supporting students with special educational needs.”

Banbury Academy headteacher Fiona Hammans said the intention was to maintain staffing levels but cut down on resources.

One school which looks set to gain is Wolvercote Primary, which county council information indicated would be about £15,000 better off.

But headteacher Frances Bartlett said it was “a game of wait and see”.

She said: “Any additional money is always welcome but when it is a reduction on one hand and an additional pot on the other, or one thing offsetting another, it is less clear.”

The county council had hoped to cap the amount schools were set to lose – known as the Minimum Funding Guarantee – at one per cent but spokesman Julie Whyman said the Government told the authority they did not have discretion to change the percentage.

The county council is part of the F40 group of councils which is opposing the changes.

Education cabinet member Melinda Tilley said: “We are worried about it and we don’t want to see any schools missing out.”

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