Small Primary Schools could lose out under new funding system

Rural schools could be put at risk by government changes to the way funding is allocated to small Primary Schools.

Under changes announced recently, Primary Schools with fewer than 75 pupils – the majority of which are in rural areas – could have their funding capped.

At the moment, Primary Schools with fewer than 100 pupils are given cash for each pupil, which can then be added to with top-up budgets from local councils.

But the government is now planning to give small schools a one-off annual grant of between £100,000 and £150,000, on top of the money they receive for each pupil.

There are concerns that this will not be enough for certain schools, and will subsequently result in councils being unable to protect the smallest schools with extra funds.

'What we are concerned about is that the new arrangements could affect the viability of small schools. Like village pubs, these schools are at the very heart of rural communities and it is vital that they are protected,' said David Simmons, Chairman of the Local Government Association's children and young people board.

'At the moment, it is down to the discretion of local authorities as to how much of their budget is committed to small schools. This is about imposing a national one-size-fits-all approach and we are concerned as to the consequences at a local level.'There are currently around 2,400 Primary Schools in England with fewer than 100 pupils, the vast majority of which are located in villages and rural areas.

There are concerns that the funding changes will mean pupils will be forced to attend larger schools far away from where they live. But the government has said this will not be the case.

'Small schools will continue to receive extra protection from falling pupil numbers as our new system will mean the lump sum subsidy they receive will be protected if their pupil numbers decrease,' a government spokesman said.
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