Schools face funding cuts

PUBLISHED: 09:18 16 April 2009 | UPDATED: 21:45 31 May 2010

SCHOOLS in the Reporter s area have suffered a huge financial blow following a decision to slash sixth form budgets. The funding cut made by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) – the public body responsible for funding education and training in England

SCHOOLS in the Reporter's area have suffered a huge financial blow following a decision to slash sixth form budgets.

The funding cut made by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) - the public body responsible for funding education and training in England - has left schools struggling to balance their books for the next financial year.

Saffron Walden County High School has lost out on £140,000 worth of sixth form funding because of the recent decision and has been forced to rapidly redraft its budget.

"The timing of this is crazy," said the school's bursar Alan Gray. "It has created a great furore with all the schools in the area and we are very unhappy.

"The budget had already been planned and for this to be announced at the last minute is a real blow. The cut will not affect the operational efficiency of the school, but we have had to take the money out of some important capital projects.

"We are one of the largest schools in Essex and we can benefit from economies of scale, but some smaller schools will now struggle to meet their budgets."

All 43 state secondary schools in Essex which offer education for 16 to 18 year olds have seen significant cuts to their draft budgets for 2009/10. Schools across the county have seen a total £2.4 million worth of funding wiped out.

Leader of Essex County Council, Lord Hanningfield, said: "This 11th hour decision will place huge pressure on the budgets of our sixth forms, who have been planning to accommodate an increase in student numbers on the basis of the draft budget they had been given. It is entirely unacceptable at this stage to expect schools to now work within much tighter constraints with little notice.

"I will be writing to the Skills Secretary to express my concern at this ill-conceived and woefully timed decision.

A letter informing schools of the revised sixth form funding was sent out on March 31.

A spokesman for the LSC apologised for causing "confusion and concern" and added it was misleading to suggest the allocations were "final rather than provisional".

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