School Fury at Budget Cuts
SCHOOLS across Comet country face budget cuts of up to �110,000 for teaching sixth form students. The blow came out of the blue last week when the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) informed Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) of changes in budget proposals
SCHOOLS across Comet country face budget cuts of up to �110,000 for teaching sixth form students.
The blow came out of the blue last week when the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) informed Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) of changes in budget proposals sent to schools on March 3.
Schools will now have to recalculate their budgets for 2009/10.
Barbara Follett, MP for Stevenage, and Oliver Heald MP for North East Herts, say they will raise their concerns with the Government over the cuts.
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Ian Morris, headteacher at The Highfield School, Letchworth GC, fired off a letter to parents outlining his feelings requesting their support in light of his serious concerns to the allocation of funding.
He says cuts took place despite alternate figures being supplied to schools in January and in early March.
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"Headteachers and governors have been working hard to accommodate cuts that were already in the pipeline. In light of this very late cut we will find it extremely difficult to manage without a significant impact on students' learning," said Mr Morris, who says what has caused distress to schools is the very late timing and the lack of opportunity to manage the necessary reduction.
He says the local authority was not consulted or given any warning to allow it to respond or support schools.
Richard Westergreen-Thorne, headteacher at Barnwell, has written to MP Barbara Follett about his anger at the cutbacks.
"We've lost about �50,000 but we are determined students will not suffer. We had made plans for post-16 students after getting our first figures then the money was taken away.
"It was the wrong time to make this decision when schools had put so many plans in place."
Mr Heald, who has written to Ed Balls, minister for children, schools and families, said: "Coming on top of budget cuts to North Herts College, we now have our schools hit hard in their already stretched budgets.
"It may be different in areas where Labour spends more, but this will hit hard here.
"I hope Mr Balls will respond quickly with a reprieve."
Barbara Follett said: "I will be writing to the Department for Children, Schools and Families to raise the concerns of schools in my constituency who have contacted me about this issue.
"The number of young people choosing to remain in education after the age of 16 has risen far more than anyone expected. This increased demand has been more than initially budgeted for.
"The figures schools have received are not final. The Government is continuing discussions with the LSC, who will be contacting schools again before the end of April."
John Harris, the director of children, schools and families, and Justin Donovan, the director of education at HCC, were briefed on Thursday by LSC officers about the reasons for the reduction in funding for school sixth forms, and the late notification.
The LSC director will write to schools and colleges to explain the situation and HCC will join other local authorities to campaign for the funding to be restored.
Schools' minister Jim Knight said: "We are already planning record investment of over �6.7 billion in education for 16-19 years old.
"We are seeing a greater surge in demand for places than we have budgeted for.