At its meeting on the 19th September, the Schools Forum, which is made up of representatives from all publicly-funded schools in the County, agreed that as part of a larger consultation exercise on school funding, the Council should continue to lobby the Department of Education over proposals for school budgets, which are due to take effect next April.
The Council and the Forum believe that the proposals significantly restrict the way that local decisions can be made about how schools are funded and that this will lead to considerable changes in funding for many.
The consultation with schools outlines how, having looked at thousands of potential options within the government’s new rules, the “least worst” option available would still cause reductions for over 100 schools, shifting around £7 million between schools. Although there would be transitional arrangements for 2 years, there is no guarantee for schools after that and many will feel very uneasy at what lies ahead.
County Councillor Arthur Barker, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Schools said:
The funding formula for schools in North Yorkshire was designed in North Yorkshire and works for our schools. The problem with the government’s proposals is they impose a ‘one size fits all’ model on the entire country, making no allowance for the fact that our schools exist in very different circumstances from, say, those of a London borough.
While there would be schools which would do well under the proposals, those gains are paid for by the schools which lose, as the total pot of money will not increase.
I am certain that the impact on our schools is an unintended consequence of the proposals and that there is no intention to adversely affect the choice for parents in North Yorkshire nor to impact on our high attainment levels. That is why we are asking the government to allow some small elements of flexibility within their overall proposals to ensure that this does not happen.
Although the Council currently delegates over 97% of the budget to schools, the consultation also considers which other funding can be given directly to them. The consultation continues until 17 October 2012.