The Government has withdrawn funding to Warwickshire County Council that provided specialist support to schools, leading to one school in Rugby considering becoming an academy.
Separate funding for services such as child support for obesity, substance misuse, teenage pregnancy have been withdrawn completely, along with cash for after hours school services, the Advertiser has learnt. Separate funds for specialist support services have also been taken away from the authority and given directly to schools to encourage them to buy services from private providers. The county council will now only provide support to schools if they are classed as failing by Oftsed.
The withdrawal of the services has been a factor in Dunchurch infant school’s interest in become a REAch2 sponsored academy. The school, which is rated Good by Ofsted, told parents: “We were once supported by a large team of education experts employed by Warwickshire Local Authority, but now that is almost all gone. REAch2 is a charitable trust run by very experienced and successful head teachers.
“We have seen the success they have had in other schools and would like to benefit from their expertise.”
Last year Newbold primary in Rugby became a REAch2 sponsored academy, meaning that REAch2 was granted a 125 year lease on the school’s capital assets such as land and buildings. While the trust cannot run the school for profit, it does control the school’s finances and provide human resources, payroll, insurance and estates management services through its business partnership with Strictly Education, a profit-making organisation part of the Bond International Software corporation.
The deal in Newbold also meant existing staff were not subject to national pay scales or transfer of undertakings and protection of employment laws. Newbold Riverside’s transfer cost of £25,000 was paid for by the Department of Education, while funding continued to be provided by Warwickshire County Council using the same formula used as before. REAch2 now controls the school’s finances, curriculum and things like uniform, schooling hours and term dates.
A Warwickshire County Council spokesperson said: “All schools, regardless of whether they have academy status or not, have a controllable budget. Rather than a budget cut, the government now gives a greater proportion of money to the schools themselves rather than the local authority.”
They added: “For some programmes government grants have been removed completely, which means that initiatives such as extended services and healthy schools are no longer provided by the council because the funding was removed.”