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Lifeline after KCC's education grant U-turn

Classroom scene
Classroom scene

by political editor Paul Francis

Key services for thousands of vulnerable children have been given a lifeline after Kent County Council backed down over plans to axe a grant to a specialist education company.

The council was facing a legal challenge after it unexpectedly cut funding to Project Salus, an independent company set up by former KCC staff.

The company had recently been told by KCC its three-year contract to support vulnerable youngsters through a range of school-based schemes was to be terminated after just six months.

The decision was being challenged by the company through the High Court, with a hearing due shortly.

But in an abrupt U-turn, KCC announced last week it had resolved the situation, apparently after the intervention of council leader Paul Carter.

In a joint statement, the council and the company said: "Both Project Salus and Kent County Council are pleased to confirm that any issues in our contract have now been resolved amicably and the judicial review claim has now been withdrawn. We are looking forward to working together in the future."

Project Salus, based in Smeeth, near Ashford, has won several awards for its work and was set up in June last year as a social enterprise company.

It is staffed by former KCC employees who had worked for the authority under its Kent Safe Schools initiative.

It helps schools tackle issues such as attendance, exclusions and bullying, as well support for those with mental health and drug problems.

The company says schools will lose vital support while young children will suffer.

Speaking before KCC’s change of heart, Project Salus director Sally Williamson warned: "The consequences will be immense for those children we have provided support for.

"We have a proven track record in dealing with attendance, bullying, reducing exclusions and the emotional well-being of children and KCC has recognised this. There has been a lot of objective evaluation about the value of our services."

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