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Norwich school suffers funding cuts

PUBLISHED: 11:00 05 February 2010 | UPDATED: 07:56 02 July 2010

Lakenham Primary School

Lakenham Primary School

Steve Downes

A Norwich primary school warned support for its neediest pupils could be under threat after local politicians pulled the plug on thousands of pounds of lifeline funding.

A Norwich primary school warned support for its neediest pupils could be under threat after local politicians pulled the plug on thousands of pounds of lifeline funding.

Lakenham Primary on City Road is one of the biggest losers after Norfolk County Council cut £1.9m from the money it was planning to give to 167 schools to support pupils in the most deprived parts of the county.

The 312-pupil school, which has 41pc of its pupils entitled to free school meals, was initially expecting to get £113,959 in social deprivation funding in 2010/11.

Now it has been revealed that the council was going to make that figure £92,337, but has since cut it further, to £65,429 - leaving headteacher Oriana Dalton to wrestle with a £48,530 funding cut.

Mrs Dalton said: “I'm very concerned. One of the issues for us here has been raising standards and improving outcomes for children.

“We have a teaching assistant in every class and have developed a specialist speech and language teaching assistant's role. That's all going to be put under strain.

“We've raised English key stage two test results by 20pc and improved results at key stage one. My concern is that we won't be able to sustain those improvements with the budget cuts.”

The school opened two-and-half year ago in a new building - replacing Lakenham First and Lakenham Middle, which closed as part of a countywide drive to get all pupils transferring to high school at age 11.

Mrs Dalton said: “There needs to be additional investment and support to level the playing field between the haves and the have-nots. This decision is going to perpetuate the lack of equality between children. We will do what we can, but it will be an additional stress on staff and resources.”

She said she may have to lose staff on temporary contracts, cut the staff training budget and stop subsidising school trips.

Shelagh Hutson, the council's cabinet member for children's services, said “I understand the frustration of some schools, which will not receive as much additional funding as anticipated next year but sadly, with the pressures on the schools' budget, there is no other option.

“Overall schools' funding comes from central Government and we are receiving £3.5m less than we expected. Of course we want resources to go to the neediest, which is why we are investing additional money in specialist resource bases and alternative education - to support those children who need the greatest help.”

The council was set to divvy up £7.1m of social deprivation funding between schools, with those in the most challenging areas getting the most. But the sum has been cut to £5.2m.

t Do you have a school funding story? Call Steve Downes on 01603 772495 or email steve.downes@archant.co.uk.

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