Hartlepool schools set to lose £1.5million in funding - leaving them '˜facing financial cliff edge'

Hartlepool council chiefs are to lobby the Government as cash-strapped town schools are set to lose out £1.5m in funding.

Thursday, 21st December 2017, 5:00 am
Updated Thursday, 21st December 2017, 6:45 am
Councillor Alan Clark

Councillors unanimously supported a motion to write to Education Secretary Justine Greening over the impact funding arrangements will have on Hartlepool schools in the next two financial years.

School budget increases under the National Funding Formula for Schools have been described as “minimal” by Councillor Alan Clark, who is the chair of Hartlepool council’s Children’s Services Committee.

Education Secretary Justine Greening MP.

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The motion, also signed by four fellow Labour councillors, says Hartlepool schools will only receive an increase of 0.5% in 2018-19 and 1% in 2019-20.

But nothing has been decided beyond that, said Coun Clark, which is causing uncertainty and fears schools across town are going to lose out.

He said: “It’s very clear amongst the school community in Hartlepool that the current funding arrangements are unsustainable in the long term.

“At this time the challenges facing our schools are greater than anyone would anticipate.

Education Secretary Justine Greening MP.

“Twenty-nine out of 35 mainstream Hartlepool schools will be affected by this shortsightedness and as such sensible medium term financial plans cannot be drawn up causing great uncertainty among teachers and governing bodies both now and going forwards.

“As no future plans have yet been developed, Hartlepool schools are set to lose £1.5m in 2020-2021, the equivalent of 2.3% of the total schools budget in the borough.”

Coun Clark said it came at a time when demand for specialist services and intervention is increasing.

The motion calls on the Government to urgently come up with proposals so schools can plan ahead with certainty.

Coun Jim Lindridge said: “I think there’s something more important than finance in this motion.

“It is promoting the future prosperity of our young people, it’s raising aspirations to meet the hopes and desires of this generation.”

Coun David Riddle, a teacher, said the Conservative government has turned education funding back 30 years.

“It’s virtually impossible for schools to manage,” he said. “I know teachers of all levels who are leaving the profession in droves.

“They are spending their own money on buying pens and paper for their pupils because they have no budget to do it.”

An amendment proposed by Coun Shane Moore also includes a call for the Government to urgently look at funding for Special Educational Needs pupils.

He said no increase in funding is included for special schools under the current formula.