New schools partnership could combat loss of £1million government funding

PUBLISHED: 09:54 20 September 2017

The government is set to remove the Education Services Grant

The government is set to remove the Education Services Grant

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Plans were approved by cabinet members on Tuesday night

Plans to plug a £1million gap in funding could see the council take on a new role with the borough’s maintained schools and academies, after initial plans were accepted on Tuesday night.

The council is set to provide a £550,000 sum to combat the loss of the Education Services Grant, a government sum handed to local authorities to carry out statutory duties such as teacher background checks on staff.

Moving forward, the council hopes to lead a new partnership scheme with all of the borough’s schools, including academies, which run outside of the council’s control and provide 72 per cent of schools in the borough.

Plans to set up the partnership, which schools would have to pay into to join, were approved by cabinet members on Tuesday night.

A consultation on the proposal is being sent out to schools this week, running until October, with the hope a scheme could be up and running by January.

Bexley council is expected to put £200,000 into setting up and running partnership for the first two years.

Stef Borella, Labour’s shadow spokesperson on the borough’s education, raised a concern on the scheme’s long term future, saying: “I do welcome that schools want to see a strategic relationship, I think it’s vital that we see it.

“Past the first two years its unclear how funding will move forward, schools have had a real term reduction in per pupil funding, this has had an impact on schools’ budgets and special educational needs provision. My concern is after that two years, schools will want to buy in, but funding wise there is a concern they will not be able to.”

A review of the council’s investment will take place after the first two years of the partnership.

John Fuller, cabinet member for education added: “Even with schools converting to academies, they still look to us as a borough for help, out of all of our schools the majority still look to us for assistance, and guidance.

“These are Bexley’s children, we have an obligation to make sure all sides of education are looked at and worked on.”

A spokesperson from the council said: “Our school leaders have told us clearly that they will work closely alongside us to build a new strategic alliance, enabling us to focus on local challenges and to celebrate successes together. We believe this decision will support and promote the life chances of tomorrow’s adults.”

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