Anger as DfE error slashes school funding by £1m

Politicians and councillors say a Government blunder that resulted in funding budgets for York schools being slashed by over £1 million is “unacceptable”.

As The Press reported, The Department for Education (DfE) admitted to the mistake that has resulted in around £60 or more being lost per pupil at some schools in the York area.

The mistake was an underestimation of pupil numbers by DfE officials.

It means that the full £59.6 billion Core Schools Budget will still be delivered in full by the Government but the amount that each school receives per pupil will be less.

British civil servant Susan Acland-Hood, the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education, apologised to Robin Walker MP, chair of the Education Select Committee, over the mistake in a letter sent on Friday, October 6.

Politicians and councillors in York hit out at the error.

York Central MP Rachael Maskell branded it as “yet another mistake by this Tory Government”.

“The complete mismanagement of the Tory ministers is outrageous as they are lurching from one disaster to another,” she told The Press.

“With York schools already some of the worst funded in the country, the cost will be borne by children not having access to the full education they deserve, with York schools losing between £45 to £65 per pupil next year.”

York Outer MP Julian Sturdy said the mistake was an “unacceptable failing within the DfE”.

“I hope that the civil servants involved are adequately disciplined by the Secretary of State,” he told The Press.

“This is not a mere oversight but could have a profound impact on children in York’s education.

“I will be raising this matter with ministers urgently as local schools should not have to suffer due to mistakes made within the DfE.”

City of York Council leader Cllr Claire Douglas said the situation would have an “unacceptable impact on York schools and the education of its pupils”.

She added the error “compounds the problem of York schools being amongst the worst funded in the whole country”.

“The Government should be recognising its mistake and adjusting its allocations to ensure per pupil funding is maintained. Instead, what we will see for some schools is equivalent to the loss of two full time teachers,” Cllr Douglas told The Press.

“The Conservative Government is short-changing York across a range of public services and this cannot go on.”

Cllr Andrew Hollyer, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for York Outer, said the blunder “shows up the staggering incompetence of this Conservative Government”.

“Just a few weeks after the RAAC concrete scandal, the Conservatives have shown yet again that we cannot trust them to look after our schools,” he said.

“Schools have spent two months expecting to receive significantly more funding than they will actually get next year. The Government has not even given them their correct funding figure yet.

“As a result, schools may have to redraw their budgets for the upcoming year.”

Luke Charters, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for York Outer, branded the error as “more chaos” being “inflicted on local children’s education due to the complete failure of the Conservatives”.

“I went to Huntington School and appreciate the hard work and dedication of every single member of staff there, without them I would not be where I am today,” he said.

“But when budgets are already tight how is Huntington School going to plug the £70,000 budget gap equivalent to roughly two teachers’ salaries?

“We desperately need a change.”

Source: The Press

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