On the 23rd of November Stoke-on-Trent MP’s met with Cllr Abi Brown, representatives from SHAPE and SASCAL to discuss a proactive and co-operative way forward in dealing with the recently accrued debt in the Higher Needs Block without removing funding from the schools block funding.
A consensus was reached that the best way forward was for the City Council not to request a top-slice of 3% from the schools block but look to carry forward a deficit in the higher needs block which, in turn, would be serviced from the future savings made by re-engineering the higher needs provision in the city in conjunction with schools, colleges and providers.
To help facilitate this, the three City MPs agreed to write to the Secretary of State endorsing this plan and requesting a little additional time for the City Council to be able to make an initial pitch to DfE on the 30th November but have flexibility to submit more detailed information after the 30th November.
Despite this and without the support of local Head Teachers, the council has now reneged on this agreement and pushed forward with a request to top slice 0.5% of the DSG, meaning around £790,000 will be taken out of the hands of Head Teachers and local schools.
Schools will now be forced to make difficult financial decisions that will impact on staffing numbers. I’m saddened that this agreement has been broken and shocked and angry that the Council will now be taking money out of local classrooms to cover up its budgetary mistakes. Our children deserve better.