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Education top priority for MP

Mid Wales | Education | Published:

Newly elected MP,  Jane Dodds, wants a meeting with Powys County Council (PCC) education chiefs to discuss school funding problems with them.

Schools and education was one of the major issues that came up on the doorsteps of Brecon and Radnorshire during the recent by-election.

Ms Dodds said: “I shall be seeking an urgent meeting with Powys County Council leader Rosemarie Harris and chief executive Caroline Turner and this will be one of the issues I wish to raise with them.

“It came up on the doorstep and is clearly an issue that needs to be urgently addressed.”

PCC Liberal Democrat and Green Group leader, Councillor James Gibson-Watt, (Glasbury) said that schools will not receive any more funding for the extra pupils some are receiving over-and-above their normal intake in September.

Councillor Gibson-Watt said: “This policy is causing some schools to fall in to worse budget deficit positions, resulting in the council threatening them with warning notices for not setting a balanced budget.”

“Schools are now in the ridiculous and damaging situation of having to reduce teacher numbers to meet the requirements of the warning notices. Whilst at the same time having to admit more students imposed on them by PCC with no extra funding.

“This can only have a catastrophic effect on the education standards in schools.”

Councillor Gibson-Watt added that he knew of some class sizes going up to 33 pupils, despite the classrooms not being big enough to cope with the numbers.

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Earlier this year the funding formula was changed to try to give schools a fairer slice of the cake providing all with cash to fund the minimum educational needs.

The Funding Review Group (FRG) which helped set the formula had told PCC that the money they were putting into schools would be £5.5 million light of what was needed. This came into force in April.

Head of education, Dr Alec Clark, said: “The number of pupils funded is based on the pupil counting date which is the first Friday after the October half term, this was agreed as part of the Schools Formula Funding Review approved by cabinet in January this year.

“Warning notices are only issued following ongoing concerns at schools that have not submitted adequate or accurate budget recovery plans to address their ongoing deficit budgets.”

“Individual circumstances of schools are fully considered before any formal action is undertaken.”

“The local authority remains committed to working closely with schools and governing bodies to ensure appropriate education provision.”

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