North Yorkshire to press Government on education funding

North Yorkshire County Council.
North Yorkshire County Council.

The majority of North Yorkshire schools will be forced to cut teaching staff and increase class sizes over the next 18 months, as the county struggles from Government underfunding.

According to North Yorkshire County Council, over two thirds of the county's schools will be in deficit by 2021/22, with a combined deficit over £25m.

The dire situation of the county's schools, and the steps the authority have taken to address it, will be presented in a report at North Yorkshire’s children’s overview and scrutiny committee later this month.

It comes after a funding survey of the schools carried out by the county council this summer revealed that over the next 18 months 83 per cent of schools expect to make reductions in classroom support staff; 73 per cent in learning resources; 63 per cent in teaching staff and 86 per cent of schools expect to have to increase class sizes.

The survey also revealed that in addition to reductions in staffing, the financial challenges would likely lead to cuts in curriculum choices, investment in school buildings and establishing breakfast and after school clubs.

According to the county authority, more schools will need to to look for funding by applying for charitable grants and fundraising options, or consider merging budgets or increasing collaboration with other schools.

The situation is mirrored at local level, with the local democracy reporting service writing in March that 67 per cent of schools in Harrogate and Knaresborough will be in deficit by 2020/2021.

In a statement ahead of the meeting County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire's executive member for schools, said current Government funding had "effectively downgraded" support to rural secondary schools.

“The picture continues to worsen and for this reason we will continue to press the Government for fairer funding," he said.

"It cannot be right that at secondary level, for example, North Yorkshire is funded at £4,954 per pupil (ranking 129th out of 149 local authorities). In comparison, Hackney is funded at £7,873 per pupil (nearly £3,000 per pupil more). For an average 1,500 pupil secondary school, this is a difference of approx. £4.4m.

“The National Funding Formula has effectively downgraded the financial support provided to rural secondary schools.

“We will continue to work proactively with a range of individual schools to avoid deficits wherever possible and to develop robust recovery plans.”

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter