School hopeful of finding a solution to funding issue

Nunnykirk Centre For Dyslexia
Nunnykirk Centre For Dyslexia

A Northumberland residential specialist school has received some positive news after raising concerns over a funding shortfall.

Negotiations will continue over the summer and leaders at Nunnykirk Centre for Dyslexia are hopeful that a solution can be found.

The centre, which occupies a large country house in a beautiful setting a few miles west of Longhorsley, provides high-quality education and support for pupils aged between nine and 18 years with dyslexia and associated learning difficulties.

It is funded through a ‘lagged system’, which means the amount of cash it receives from local authorities and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is based on pupil numbers from previous years.

This system was changed a month ago, so now all the funding is done on a yearly basis.

The problem has arisen in part because the initial allocation for Nunnykirk was based on the 23 pupils it had two years ago, but upwards of 37 children were expected to go to the school in September.

However, in a letter to parents earlier this week, headteacher Barry Frost said: ‘We still have a long way to go to secure our future and lots of people (not least parents, thank you!) are firmly on the case, but I’m sure you will share my relief in some welcome good news that we’ve received this week.

‘The ESFA have indicated they will fund us for the pupil numbers we had on roll in January 2017.

‘We still need to find that extra £70k-£100k in the next year, and pupil roll to continue growing, but this guarantees more of our forecast income for 2017-18.

‘In addition, Northumberland County Council showed real confidence in Nunnykirk by agreeing funding for five new pupils in September, and some additional pupil-funding.’

A county council spokeswoman said: “We have confirmed to the families of existing learners and families making new placement requests that the next year of education at Nunnykirk can be funded, providing the national Education Skills Funding Agency continues to offer its support.

“We sincerely hope Nunnykirk will have a long and stable future, helping a growing number of children.”