Local schools in Stoke-on-Trent risk being left out of pocket after the City Council try to claw back three million pounds of new funding.
The money is being provided by Government to directly support schools across the city. But Stoke-on-Trent City Council have written to head teachers to say they will be seeking to claim three million out of the four million being provided.
The City Council claim that this money is needed to pay down historic debts relating to high needs educational support. But head teachers say that without the extra funding schools across Stoke-on-Trent will be forced to make teachers and teaching assistants redundant.
Ruth Smeeth MP, who campaigned for extra funding for local schools, said it was ‘unacceptable’ for the City Council to take money from local schools to fill their own coffers.
Ruth said: “I’m appalled that the extra money, that is finally being provided to support pupils, could be used to pay off the council’s historic debts instead.”
“At a time when our local schools are crying out for more investment, Stoke-on-Trent City Council are robbing our city’s schoolchildren to pay for their own financial shortcomings. It is totally and utterly unacceptable.
"The only consideration should be what resources our schools need to make sure our kids get the best possible education, this shouldn't be about fixing a black hole in the council budget.”
Stoke-on-Trent Central MP Gareth Snell, said: "It's simply wrong that this money designated to give our schools extra support might not actually reach local classrooms.
"The Council should be giving our schools the support they need rather than top slicing funds to cover up holes in their budget. I'm urging them to reconsider this decision and with my colleague Ruth Smeeth MP have written to the government urging them not to allow this to happen."
Councillor Janine Bridges, Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s cabinet member for education, said: “This relates to funding that schools are due to receive from next year from Government and it relates to all children in the city. The number of children with special education needs in Stoke-on-Trent is growing significantly every year, as it is across the country. Special schools in Stoke-on-Trent are at capacity and also more pupils are being excluded from schools than in previous years.
“We have a duty, as do schools, to support all our children – which includes those with special educational needs in the city. The escalating cost for special needs provision to support all our children requires £3m of funding that would otherwise go to the remainder of schools from next year’s increased Government support – to reiterate, the funding is for all of our children. This equates to around 1.5 per cent of the total of pupil-led funding for schools.
“This is certainly not to cover historic debt and it is definitely not going to the city council coffers as is claimed – it is about making sure that some of the city’s most vulnerable children receive the best education possible.
“Two years ago, Stoke-on-Trent City Council put an additional £5.7m into schools funding from the council’s resources on an on-going basis. On top of this, around £8m has been invested from Dedicated Schools Grant reserves into School Improvement, School Readiness and to support schools in financial hardship.
“This provision is no longer available and we have made that clear to all schools for a considerable time. The funding for education supports all our children and as a result the allocation must reflect that principle.”