Grant for small schools in Flintshire scrapped

Reporter:

Hayley Collins

FURIOUS councillors have vowed to fight plans to scrap funding for smaller schools.

A £7,000 Assembly government small schools grant given to 22 predominantly rural schools across the county has been scrapped.

The move has led to serious concerns over the future of a number of village schools.

Astonishingly the county’s executive member for education Nigel Steele-Mortimer was unaware of the situation until he was informed by the Leader.

He said: “I'm extremely disturbed indeed because the two schools in my ward - Trelogan and Trelawnyd - both fall into that category.

“It is a very serious matter and we will have to consider the implications very carefully. I will be looking into this now.”

The grant, for schools with 90 pupils or fewer, was used to pay for substitute teachers and administration costs.

Treuddyn councillor and Ysgol Parc y Llan governor Carolyn Thomas, who has two affected schools in her ward, Ysgol Parc y Llan and Ysgol Terrig, said the schools could be forced to merge classes or make teachers redundant.

She said: “Not getting this grant will make a big difference.

“If they are just about managing with one teacher and this funding is taken away it can mean the difference between joining year groups together for lessons.

“It could also mean redundancies for some schools because not as many teachers will be needed.”

The mum-of-three said she will do everything in her power to get the decision overturned.

She added: “It’s going to be more difficult for us to fight because it’s an Assembly government grant. The only thing we can do is go to our AMs and ask them why this is happening.

“I will be asking our AMs to challenge this.”

Cllr Ian Roberts said Flintshire Council should shoulder some of the blame for schools struggling as it only spends 95.9 per cent of its allocated school budget.

He said: “Schools in Flintshire are underfunded and these cuts continue to be made. If Flintshire was spending to its IBA in education then schools would receive £4 million more than they currently are and this is why we need to continue our fight in persuading the current administration to restore these cuts.”

In a letter seen by the Leader, which was sent by the Welsh Assembly Government to all local authorities, Sylvia Lindoe, head of schools management and effective division, said: “We have recently reviewed the grant funding for Innovation in Small Schools and have concluded that the implementation phase of the School Effectiveness Framework, will provide new opportunities for greater joint working between schools.

“In addition we have had to make difficult choices in relation to funding pressures on our grant schemes in 2010-11. Therefore the grant for Innovation in Small Schools will cease.”

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