Norwich headteachers warn of job cuts

Sarah HallHead teachers in Norwich today warned they could be forced to axe jobs because of a �1.9m cut in funding, which schools had been promised to help vulnerable children.Sarah Hall

Head teachers in Norwich today warned they could be forced to axe jobs because of a �1.9m cut in funding, which schools had been promised to help vulnerable children.

Norfolk County Council is set to slice the grants it makes to schools to help them boost results among vulnerable children, sparking anger among head teachers.

The council was set to divide up �7.1m of social deprivation funding between schools, with those in the most challenging areas getting the most.

Now the sum has been cut to �5.2m, leaving schools that had already budgeted for the promised cash with some tough choices to make.

Philip May, head of Costessey High School, which will miss out on around �55,000, said: 'It will mean job cuts. One of the problems with Norfolk is because the bulk of schools are in the rural communities, the schools in the deprived areas are in the minority.

'If you ask the schools collectively where money should be taken away, they are more likely to agree that this sort of money should go - because it won't affect them, while in my view, the council should take a stronger line in protecting that money.'

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Tom Samain, head teacher of the Hewett School, where the grant will be cut from �240,951 to �171,527, said: 'This is what we were expecting in the current climate and we have taken steps to mimimise the impact, but the point is we should have to be doing that.

'This calls into question the Prime Minister's statement that the government was going to be the government of social mobility, because if that means anything, it should mean tackling the educational effects of deprivation.

'This sort of fund was set up to do that, so the Prime Minister is saying one thing, but the reality of what is happening in schools in completely the opposite.'

Karen Topping, head of Sewell Park College in Norwich, said the county council had not informed them about its cut from �308, 262 to �219,816.

She said: 'We use this money to provide essential support to the most vulnerable of our students. We have a nurture group. Without that group, we probably wouldn't be able to get some of these youngsters into school.'

In all 167 schools will get less money than they were promised - with cuts ranging from a few hundred pounds to almost �93,000 for the biggest loser, Great Yarmouth High.

Shelagh Hutson, cabinet member for children's services, said reduced government funding left the council with 'no choice', with the schools budget �3.5m lower than anticipated because there were fewer pupils than the government had predicted.

She said: 'This, combined with pressures on the budget brought about by increased special educational needs costs, the costs of funding out of county placements for some of the most vulnerable children, and support to schools that have got into financial difficulty means we have had to make some tough decisions when planning the schools budget for next year.'

She said an additional �419,000 was set aside for specialist resource bases for children with special educational needs, plus a further �500,000 for alternative education provision to help children who needed support with their learning.