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Cash spent on academies will 'hinder funding' for county schools: KCC chiefs


by political editor Paul Francis

County education chiefs have warned the government that "over-generous" funding for academies will significantly hinder their efforts to improve standards at other schools and is grossly unfair, it has emerged.

Kent County Council set out a series of concerns in a letter to the Department for Education this year in which it described as "grossly unfair" arrangements that it believed meant academy schools stood to get 35% more money in their budgets than they should.

It warned the authority would have nearly £900,000 less to spend on support services for its remaining schools under the government's funding arrangements for 2013-14.

The letter was released in files disclosed to the KMG under the Freedom of Information Act.

It also complained that academies were, under the government's arrangements, continuing to receive money to help pupils with problems even though the responsibility for doing so fell to councils.

KCC's concerns were sent in response to the Department for Education's consultation earlier this year.

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What do you think? Join the debate by adding your comments below

County officials said the method of calculating grants meant that "not only will academies be funded at an unfairly generous rate, it will also impact on the delivery of services to LA [local authority] schools as £898,000 will be permanently removed from budgets not transfered to academies.

There will be very real and negative consequences for a range of services supporting maintained [non-academy] schools and their pupils."

Academy schools are a cornerstone of the coalition's education programme, which allows them to operate independently of councils.

They are funded directly by the government and they keep money that previously would have gone to the education authority to pay for vital support services.

There are now more than 90 in Kent, with a further 22 in the pipeline.

KCC has, as with other councils, complained about what it regards as the lack of a level playing field when it comes to funding.

Other worries highlighted by education bosses included the fact that academies would continue to receive money for targeting under-performance - even though many were successful schools that had no call for such money.

KCC told the DfE that would mean "there would be less funding to be targeted at those schools where the school needs additional resources and support to raise attainment. It will significantly hinder us in working with schools to raise standards."

The letter concluded: "These proposals are grossly unfair and inequitable...and would further exacerbate an already unacceptable position."
KCC was invited to comment but had not done so despite several requests to do so as we went to press.

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