Essex County Council Wants Delay To Education Funding Cuts

7 December 2016, 06:16 | Updated: 7 December 2016, 06:17

Essex County Council is calling on the Government to delay plans to cut funding to education.

Under the current proposals, Essex County Council would see its Education Services Grant, which funds statutory responsibilities including school improvement, education welfare services and national curriculum assessment, drop from £10.6million a year to £3million a year from August 2017.

The plans initially came with the Government expecting more schools to become academies and the statutory responsibilities of local authorities set to be reduced.  

In Essex though, two thirds of schools are yet to become academies, while statutory responsibilities look unlikely to change, prompting calls for the timing of the funding reduction to be reconsidered.

There are also concerns that the remarkable progress made by Essex schools in recent years could be damaged.

The county is currently celebrating its best ever educational performance, as confirmed by last week's Annual Ofsted Report.

According to the  report, which is based on inspection data up to the end of August, 95 per cent of Essex secondary school pupils now attend schools rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted - the highest in the East of England and above the national average of 78 per cent.

At primary level, 91 per cent of the county's pupils attend a school rated as good or better, slightly above the national average of 90 per cent.

Essex pupils also continue to perform well across all key stages, with all outcomes either in the top or second quartile nationally.

Letters have been written to Education Secretary Justine Greening MP and Chancellor Philip Hammond MP, outlining the council's concerns.

Cllr Ray Gooding, Essex County Council's Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: "We are committed to ensuring all pupils in Essex receive the best possible education and are fully supportive of the Government's aspiration for 'Educational Excellence Everywhere'; however we have serious concerns about the impact and timing of this reduction in funding.

"While we welcome last week's announcement that £50million of new money will be made available to local authorities in recognition of their responsibilities over maintained schools, when compared to the £600million reduction to the Education Services Grant nationally, this is still a significantly reduced pot of funding."

He added: "We take a very proactive approach to raising educational standards in Essex.

"It is vitally important that schools continue to be able to access the support and challenge needed to continuously improve, and we are currently developing a school-led improvement model.

"We are calling for the Government to think again about the timing of the reduction in funding until more schools have been converted into academies and new improvement models have been fully implemented."