Hertfordshire County Council accused of ‘downplaying’ so-called funding crisis facing secondary schools

Hertfordshire County Council has been accused of 'downplaying' a so-called funding crisis facing sec

Hertfordshire County Council has been accused of 'downplaying' a so-called funding crisis facing secondary schools. - Credit: Archant

County Hall has been accused of ‘downplaying’ a so-called funding crisis facing secondary schools.

The Comet reported two weeks ago how an anticipated £23 million unfunded cut next year – on top of savings of £5m – will mean almost all the secondary schools in Herts will run out of money and reserves.

Each school is set to lose up to £300,000 in their budgets and future funding is expected to be cut by almost £60m by 2020.

Headteachers have said they will have to drop subjects, increase class sizes, make redundancies and cut small support groups for the most vulnerable. Some schools are also expected to close their sixth forms.

Last week, Herts County Council passed a motion for the executive member for resources to “write to appropriate ministers outlining the financial pressures on local public services in Hertfordshire, including matters raised by the chair of the Hertfordshire Schools’ Forum.”

The motion states: “This council is concerned at the impact this cut in funding might have on Hertfordshire schools’ ability to maintain their high standards, retain teachers, maintain class sizes and support the children in greatest need.”

But Lib Dem county councillor Mark Watkin doesn’t think the council has gone far enough.

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He had asked council leader Robert Gordon to write to secretary of state Nicky Morgan in support of schools’ forum chairman Alan Gray, and said the council’s motion “utterly failed to acknowledge the shortfall of £28.3m in school budgets in the next financial year.”

Councillor Watkin said: “I simply asked the council to recognise the depth of the crisis that secondary heads face and write a supporting letter to the minister.

“By downplaying this they have sent out a very negative message to parents and schools.”

Councillor David Williams, who is responsible for education, said: “The county council’s commitment to working with community schools through Hertfordshire Schools’ Forum and putting in place approaches that minimise the impact of the financial challenges is absolute. Specifically, a programme of support has already been established in conjunction with Herts for Learning that extends to direct intervention, value for money best practice, facilitating cooperation and confederation between schools and using the expertise of HFL to support teacher recruitment.

“In this way, I am determined to ensure the high levels of attainment already achieved by Hertfordshire’s schools continue to advance further.”

l Do Herts schools need extra help? Let us know your views, email news@thecomet.net.

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