Call for par­ent power

Tor­bay school heads’ let­ter is a call to arms as huge cash cuts threaten chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion

Herald Express - - Front Page - BY GUY HEN­DER­SON

HEAD teach­ers from five of Tor­bay’s big­gest schools have called on par­ents to back a fierce fight over hun­dreds of thou­sands of pounds in fund­ing.

They say par­ents have a part to play in the bat­tle to take back the vi­tal cash.

The big­gest loser if the cuts went ahead would be Paign­ton Com­mu­nity and Sports Academy, which would see its bud­get re­duced by al­most £200,000. Torquay Academy would lose more than £180,000, and Brix­ham Academy would lose more than £100,000.

Tor­bay’s pri­mary schools would see their bud­gets cut by more than £590,000.

The let­ter, jointly signed by the heads of Paign­ton, Torquay and Brix­ham Acad­e­mies, the Spires Col­lege in Torquay and St Cuth­bert Mayne, also in Torquay, says the schools are set to lose three-quar­ters of a mil­lion pounds – the cost of 20 teach­ers.

Tor­bay Coun­cil is propos­ing to take away ex­tra gov­ern­ment fund­ing from schools so it can make up for a deficit in spend­ing on ser­vices for pupils out­side main­stream ed­u­ca­tion.

It says the cur­rent level of spend on the ‘Higher Needs Block’ ex­ceeds the money pro­vided.

A spokesman said: “Tor­bay is not alone in this. Many lo­cal au­thor­i­ties across the coun­try are fac­ing pres­sure and pre­dict­ing an over­spend in their Higher Needs bud­get.”

HEADS of schools across Tor­bay have writ­ten to par­ents high­light­ing coun­cil plans to take back hun­dreds of thou­sands of pounds of their fund­ing.

The let­ter jointly signed by five head teach­ers and prin­ci­pals say their schools are set to lose three-quar­ters of a mil­lion pounds – the cost of 20 teach­ers.

Across Tor­bay, pri­mary, sec­ondary and spe­cial schools would lose more than £1.4 mil­lion next year un­der the pro- pos­als from Tor­bay Coun­cil.

The let­ter to par­ents is signed by the heads of Paign­ton Com­mu­nity and Sports Academy, The Spires Col­lege in Torquay, Torquay Academy, Brix­ham Col­lege and St Cuth­bert Mayne School in Torquay.

Tor­bay Coun­cil is propos­ing to take away ex­tra Gov­ern­ment fund­ing from schools so it can make up for a deficit in spend­ing on ser­vices for pupils out­side main­stream ed­u­ca­tion.

The heads say the ex­tra cash was be­ing given to Tor­bay schools un­der a Gov­ern­ment scheme to al­lo­cate money more fairly.

They say they are writ­ing to par­ents “so that you can make your voices heard should you feel that this is unac­cept­able”.

The let­ter says tak­ing cash from main­stream schools to cover over­spend­ing else­where in the ed­u­ca­tion bud­get is “un­fair”.

It adds: “Fund­ing, which has al­ready been al­lo­cated to our schools in recog­ni­tion of years of un­der­fund­ing of Tor­bay’s chil­dren, is at risk of be­ing di­verted to ad­dress the lo­cal au- thor­ity’s fi­nan­cial po­si­tion.

“Your voice is im­por­tant to en­sure we are heard and out chil­dren re­ceive the fund­ing that they de­serve.”

The let­ter urges par­ents to make their views known by us­ing a con­sul­ta­tion doc­u­ment on Tor­bay Coun­cil’s web­site by Novem­ber 21.

Brix­ham coun­cil­lor Mike Morey has writ­ten to all Tor­bay coun­cil­lors say­ing that the plan to take money from chil­dren showed the au­thor­ity had “plum­meted to new depths”.

Main­stream schools would lose more than £1.3m as part of 2a plan to switch money to the Higher Needs bud­get, which pro­vides for ex­cluded pupils and those with spe­cial ed­u­ca­tional needs and dis­abil­i­ties.

Spe­cial schools also face los­ing £100,000 next year un­der the pro­pos­als.

The big­gest loser would be Paign­ton Com­mu­nity and Sports Academy, which would see its bud­get re­duced by al­most £200,000. Torquay Academy would lose more than £180,000, and Brix­ham Academy would lose more than £100,000.

Tor­bay’s

pri­mary

schools would see their bud­gets cut by more than £590,000.

The Higher Needs bud­get is head­ing for a pos­si­ble deficit of £2.6m this year, after end­ing up in the red last year, a coun­cil con­sul­ta­tion doc­u­ment says.

It is fac­ing pres­sure from a ris­ing num­ber of pupils with ed­u­ca­tion, health and care plans – a le­gal doc­u­ment set­ting out a child’s spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion, health and so­cial care needs.

The con­sul­ta­tion doc­u­ment is at www.tor­bay.gov.uk/ me­dia/11894/dsg-high­erneeds-block-con­sul­ta­tion­doc­u­ment.pdf

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