Hartlepool’s school funding from government ‘can’t keep going on this way’, say councillors

Hartlepool Civic Centre
Hartlepool Civic Centre

Councillors have hit out after having to apply to central government for funding for ‘essential’ services for pupils in schools for the third consecutive year.

Hartlepool Borough Council children’s services committee approved plans to submit an application to the Secretary of State to fund the Education Services General Duties rate for 2019/20.

The money represents the average cost of services local authorities provide to maintain schools and the the council want to maintain the rate at £60 per pupil per school.

New national funding arrangements in 2017/18 shifted responsibility for funding statutory duties from a specific grant to the Dedicated Schools Grant, with no extra government funding provided to schools.

Initially the Schools’ Forum for the area, made up of staff from various educational bodies, was asked to transfer the money to the council for funding, but rejected the opportunity to do so.

A report said this was because they believed funding statutory duties in schools should be provided by central government and they did not have the budget to do so.

Councillors hit out at the lack of central government funding provided to schools, which has resulted in the council having to submit a special application for funding.

Children’s services chair coun Brenda Harrison said: “This just cannot keep going on this way.

“We are going to lose schools if this keeps going on.

“How many years does this have to happen before we reach crisis point, we probably already have.”

Coun Marjorie James said: “We can’t, with the best will in the world, staff and support these schools if the money is not there, it cannot work.

“It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul when Peter doesn’t have any money left.

“The local authority is taking the drop, it ultimately means cuts for children.”

Mark Tilling, headteacher at High Tunstall school, estimated in total the funds work out at £240,000 for all pupils at maintained schools, with the funding not applying to academy schools.

He said: “It’s just wrong.

“The budget is being brought to education providers and we don’t have money to fund these services.”

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service