Significant school funding to be considered by West Sussex County Council

The “most significant change to school funding since 1988” will be discussed next week at a county council meeting.

Major Government changes to the way schools are funded will be discussed at a public meeting of West Sussex County Council’s Children and Young People’s Select Committee.

The changes involve using new factors and data to redistribute millions of pounds across all schools, including academies, in West Sussex.

But a report to the county council committee expresses concerns about the changes, which would come into effect from April 1, 2013.

The report reads: “The lack of local flexibility to reflect the diversity of circumstances affecting schools does not necessarily create a fairer system, potentially affects learning outcomes for vulnerable children, and creates risks for local authorities in relation to ensuring sufficiency of places, and the viability of small schools.”

It also says that the redistribution of funding could lead to budget reductions and redundancies in some maintained schools.

The Government has said that a threshold has been set to ensure no school has a budget reduction of more than 1.5 per cent per pupil.

The proposed changes to the schools block would redistribute almost £400 million between primary and secondary schools in West Sussex, including academies.

The meeting will also look at minor changes to the formula for early years funding, which allocates funds to maintained nursery schools and nursery classes as well as to providers of the free entitlement to early years education for children aged three and four.

County councillor Richard Burrett said: “The changes do allow for some limited local discretion in the type of formula factors that can be applied in allocating the funding to schools.

“The committee will be looking at these and making recommendations to cabinet members who will ultimately make the decisions on this.”

The committee meets on Wednesday at the County Hall, in Chichester, from 1.30pm, and will be open to the public.