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Schools' closure threat is lifted
5:00pm Wednesday 24th October 2012 in News
A CLOSURE threat hanging over dozens of Cumbrian schools has been lifted after a major Government concession, it has emerged.
In a meeting with the region’s MPs and Cumbria County Council leader Eddie Martin, education minister David Laws said none of the county’s schools would be put in danger.
And he announced some 32 head teachers facing cuts of up to a third of their budgets will now not lose more than 1.5per cent and that existing funding arrangements would continue until at least 2015.
Meanwhile, Cumbria will be used as a case study for a national review of the funding shake-up and its effects on rural areas.
Coun Martin said: “The announcement does not go far enough. In terms of the minimum funding guarantee, it is not clear either what level it will be set at beyond 2014/15 or indeed for how long it would be kept in place.
“So, while the announcement is good news, I’m still far from convinced Government has got this right.”
He added: “We pressed him to give greater certainty after 2015 and, while he could not give a specific figure, he did guarantee the minimum funding guarantee would continue after 2015 so the effect on most schools will be marginal.”
Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said: “I am delighted that David Laws has agreed to make these changes – this means that none of our schools in South Lakeland face the threat of closure as a result of the funding settlement.
“Parents can now make their choices of where to send their children with full confidence that none of our schools are being put at risk”.
Eden MP Rory Stewart added: “Our rural schools are cores of our community. Children and young families bring life to our villages. We have lost far too many rural schools over the last decades. I feel the Government’s decision to protect the current situation until at least 2015 shows flexibility and imagination and is a good sign they are listening to rural communities.”
Stephen Wilkinson, headteacher of Queen Katherine School, Kendal, welcomed the progress but said he wanted to see more clarity about what the eventual impact would be.
“It has been delayed and that is helpful but it is still a cut for schools of 1.5 per cent,” said Mr Wilkinson.
“Schools need to plan and so does the county council because if it is going to have a catastrophic effect in the long term, we have to be prepared.”