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Hopes of garrison school funding cuts solution
THE commander of Europe’s biggest Army base says he is confident a threat to the funding of schools serving military families can be overcome.
Catterick Garrison commander Colonel Nick Millen is in talks with North Yorkshire County Council about potential budget cuts at all schools in the town.
A quirk of a new funding system proposed by the Government means schools which serve military populations are at risk of severe cuts.
North Yorkshire County Council estimates that Catterick Garrison's schools will lose between £29,000 and £575,000 each per year from April 2015 because of the changes.
Teachers in the town have appealed to Col Millen for help.
However, he believes the issue can be resolved.
He said: “If the issues were to threaten the funding of our schools, of course, I would be concerned about the welfare of our children.
“However, no decision has yet been taken and, at the moment, we are engaged with North Yorkshire County Council and in negotiation with them.
“I am confident that at the conclusion of those negotiations this will become a non-issue.”
The new funding system, which will give local education authorities less ability to help schools with additional costs, is due to be debated at tonight's (October 23) full council meeting of Richmondshire District Council.
Ahead of the meeting Central Richmondshire county councillor Helen Grant warned that the funding changes could have a “catastrophic” impact on children’s education and well-being in the town.
She added: “My view is that this thoughtless dictate affects garrison children disproportionately because through no choice of their own they were born into what is a transitory, mobile community."
Coun Grant pointed out that the schools supported children whose parent or parents were in war zones.
“The area also covers zones which are described as being within the demographic of social deprivation - the very area where government tells us most support will be given to children.
“They give with one hand and take with the other comes to mind.”
In response, the Department for Education said the current system of funding needed to change.
A spokeswoman said: “Currently, local authorities are funding similar schools in different ways – with some schools receiving significantly more funding than other schools for no clear reason.
“Although we are making sure local authorities use a much simpler formula, they still have some flexibility when distributing money to schools, whilst making sure head teachers and governors have more of a say in how to spend their money.”
She added that in areas where children are eligible for the service premium this extra funding would increase from £250 this year to £300 in 2013/14.