Northumberland County Council to start Task and Finish Group concentrating on impact on small, rural schools.
Plans are about to be unveiled to commission an in depth look at how the government’s controversial plans to make all schools academies by 2020 will impact on schools in Northumberland especially small, rural schools. Fears have been raised by the County Council that this move could mean further pressures on rural areas in the sparsest County in England. The move comes on the back of the revelation that residents in the county will see government funding slashed to just £6.85 per head compared with £66.82 in metropolitan boroughs like North Tyneside which councillors see as a ‘further attack on rural communities’.
The move to explore the impact of this government policy is being driven by parents and teachers who are concerned about the future of small rural schools that they have made early contact with Councillors voicing concerns.
The County Council is in receipt of the new funding formula from the government that removes the type of school funding regime that has supported small rural schools for the last century. The Council are not yet in a position to inform parents about their schools future and have spoken about setting up a Task and Finish working group to see what future exists for rural education following the Governments latest on high meddling instruction to Education Authorities.
Labour Leader of Northumberland County Council Grant Davey said
“We probably have the most small country, minor town and large village schools anywhere in England and I have been contacted by a number of Councillors who cannot answer the questions parents are seeking answers to. I’ve decided that we must look at this vital issue carefully and test what information we can test how the new funding regime will impact on education provision in rural areas. I have asked the Chairperson of our Audit Panel, Councillor Anne Dale who lives in a very rural part of Northumberland and understands the needs of country families, to chair a task and finish group to get us the answers we need”.
The new task and finish group will feed its findings through the Councils all party scrutiny process and then on to Cabinet.
Councillor Davey said
‘this will be undertaken as soon as possible and its findings debated openly in order to inform Northumberland’s public about the problems of running small schools without the backing of an education department, in effect schools and parents will find themselves in a competitive free for all.’