Budget to fail Cheltenham schools

Originally published 16 March 2016.

The Conservatives' funding plans for schools are a con, and today's Budget 2016 will do nothing to change that, claims a local Liberal Democrat.

The Conservatives' funding plans for schools are a con, and today's Budget 2016 will do nothing to change that, claims a local Liberal Democrat.
The Chancellor has tried to grab headlines ahead of the Budget with his plan to turn all English schools into Academies funded separately to the local authority. This will barely affect Cheltenham as all but one of our local secondary schools are Academies already, along with a growing number of primaries*.  And many of those have found Academy status a mixed blessing.
"This is all a smokescreen to distract attention from the cuts the Conservatives are making to sixth-form funding and the looming deficits faced by many local schools" said Martin Horwood, Lib Dem parliamentary spokesperson for Cheltenham. 
Martin added "The £1.5bn announced by the Chancellor to go with this plan would average out at about £70,000 per English school but Cheltenham secondary schools are facing deficits of hundreds of thousands of pounds in coming years because of other cuts.  The total deficits across Cheltenham could top a million pounds in a few year's time and may spell financial disaster for our best schools. That's why Balcarras has said its sixth form is at risk and why Pate's has launched its huge Making £nds Meet appeal."
"This is exactly why Liberal Democrat ministers disowned George Osborne's future spending plans before the election. We knew a Conservative victory would mean deeper cuts to schools and this Budget proves we were right. The Chancellor's pretence to be helping local schools is a con."
* All Saints, Balcarras, Bournside and Pate's all have Academy status already and Pittville has applied for it. Primary schools such as Springbank and Rowanfield already have Academy status through multi-school academy trusts.
* More can be found on the looming deficits at Cheltenham schools here: http://www.edexec.co.uk/ileader/articles/cheltenham-secondary-schools-face-going-millions-into-the-red
* Conservatives constantly claim to have 'ringfenced' school funding but this applies only to per pupil funding below 16 but doesn't take account of cuts to sixth forms or unfunded pay and pension awards imposed on schools by government. More here http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/apr/28/schools-hidden-funding-crisis-teachers-education
* Local Conservatives have claimed a 'victory' because the Government is consulting on changes to the funding formula which disadvantages counties like Gloucestershire. But this is just re-announcement of a process that was actually started by Lib Dem schools minister David Laws as the government's own website still shows  https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/david-laws-oral-statement-on-minimum-funding-levels. And there is no guarantee of course that an eventual more equal funding formula will actually result in any increased funds at all for any particular school or area.
* LibDem Treasury minister Danny Alexander's convention-breaking alternative 2015 budget - including more generous protection of school funding - can be found here: http://www.libdems.org.uk/danny-alexander-sets-out-an-alternative-economic-plan-for-britain

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