Schools’ funding formula defended by council chiefs

A formula for allocating extra cash to Northumberland schools has been slammed as ‘grossly unfair’ by opposition members.

Northumberland County Council is expected to be awarded an extra £12million from the Department of Education next year in the Dedicated Schools Grant.

But Northumberland Conservatives have criticised the method adopted by the authority for deciding how the money will be distributed, saying high schools in Ashington and Blyth will receive an extra 12 per cent, while some elsewhere will get just an extra seven per cent.

Group Leader Peter Jackson said: “This extra funding was partly the result of Anne-Marie Trevelyan lobbying the Government and the Conservative Group making the case for additional resources for schools in rural Northumberland as our schools have been some of the poorest funded in the whole country.

“The Government has listened and given this £12million per year boost to local schools so it’s a great shame that the county council has not taken this opportunity to review the need for extra ‘sparsity’ funding for our more rural schools.”

However, a spokesman for the Labour Group said: “It’s really disappointing that the Conservative members have decided to turn this issue into a political point-scoring exercise.

“The funding decisions taken by the Policy Board were subject to consultation, they’ve been accepted by the heads of the schools involved, yet now there’s an attempt to set one part of Northumberland against another.”

County Director of Education Andy Johnson said: “This funding has been fairly allocated, based on need and educational priorities. We have also ensured no school will receive less as a result of changes to the funding formula.”