Friday brief: School budgets hit as Northamptonshire moves funding to pay for rising high needs costs
Plus our regular Westminster Watch and some events to give you a culture fix in the week ahead
Schools across the county are having their budgets reduced as the local education authority is once again having to take money out of the general funding pot to pay for increased costs for high need students.
The meeting of the West Northamptonshire Schools forum held on Tuesday heard that more out of county placements for special educational needs students as well as increased costs by providers have had an impact on the overall West schools budget, which is currently in deficit of around £2.1m on its £386m. The schools budget is decided on by central government and passed down to local authorities to administer.
Head teacher at Hunsbury Park Primary Daniel York asked what the deficit would have on future mainstream school budgets following reduced funding this financial year.
“My school (this year) is down £22,000 and I know that other schools have lost significantly more,” he said.
The high needs budget has been running over for several years in Northamptonshire, in particular due to too few enough special school places (meaning that places outside Northants have to be sourced) and a rise in the level of pupils with special needs. The population of the county is also growing. Senior education officers have been highlighting the crisis within the county’s SEN provision for the past few years.
In December the West school’s forum agreed to move £2.1m (0.68% of the main budget) from the mainstream budget to fund specialist support services. This now needs to be agreed by the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
The West is predicting that by 2025 the deficit will be more than £8m if it carries on its current trajectory and has put together a recovery plan to show to Government.
The North Schools forum, which will also have to do a recovery plan, decided against a similar move last month and instead of moving £1.3m over to the budget instead decided to stay with the previously agreed 0.5%.
A paper that went before North Northamptonshire Council’s schools forum yesterday indicated the mood of the local authority, which is proposing a move towards more inclusion for SEN children within schools, which indicates less placement of children within special schools.
Last month interim assistant director at North Northamptonshire Council Ann Marie Dodds said hard choices had to be made.
“We’ll be having a lot of difficult conversations with head teachers and we may need to bring to an end some ongoing arrangements,” she said.
News in brief:
There could be some good news for Juliet Stacey, the mother we wrote about earlier this week who has not had any respite for her autistic son Dominic, 12, since October. The Northamptonshire Children’s Trust has now been in touch to say they have an ‘identified agency’ to provide the support the family is entitled to.
A petition has been launched about a new gym facility proposed for Brixworth. The plan is for a new centre on land to the north of the existing cricket club and is being put forward by developer Dr Dallas Burston. It will go before West Northamptonshire Council for approval or refusal.
Two former Northampton College catering students Luke Dillow and Kirsty Jeffs got engaged this week at the college’s in house restaurant, the place of their first date and the venue for much of their training. The Irchester pair plan to get married soon.
PM Boris Johnson and his Conservative government have faced the most torrid time of his two year rule this week in the wake of calls for him to resign; a defection of a Lancashire MP to Labour and now allegations about blackmail and intimidation of MPs who may have wanted to trigger a vote of no confidence in his leadership.
None of the county’s seven MPs have so far joined the calls for the PM to go and it appears that he still has the backing and strong confidence of MPs such as Wellingborough’s Peter Bone and Northampton North’s Michael Ellis.
Independent of the week
Despite the name, Wellingborough’s Ugly Mugs is a good-looking coffee shop.
Opened mid pandemic the Church Street venue run by Jon Ekins could do with more local support, as footfall in the town centre has dropped off somewhat in recent times.
All food is fresh, with locally sourced coffee and there’s plenty of vegan choice. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should give it a go.
😂 Comedian Sukh Ojla is performing her show Life Sukhs at the Deco Theatre in Northampton tonight from 7pm.
🎭 Weldon Amateur Theatre School is staging an adaptation of Disney’s High School Musical on Saturday and Sunday with matinee and 6.30pm performances on both days.
🎮 New online game Lost Eons: Land of Iron featuring Northampton 8,000 years ago launches next Thursday. Created by David Blandy and commissioned by Northampton Contemporary art.
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