‘Oversight’ costs schools £240,000

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EDUCATION support in the Horsham district is to take almost a £250,000 hit over the next four years, the County Times can reveal.

Muntham House School in Barns Green has lost £60,000 of funding in 2011-12 alone because of a ‘departmental oversight’.

The National Association of Independent Schools and Non-Maintained Special Schools (NASS) warned this week that more than 20 of its members were having to cut vital outreach services to some of the most vulnerable young people after a ‘Government funding error’ left schools short of amounts ranging from £45,000 to £140,000.

Muntham House had been working with the locality, including comprehensive schools in Horsham and Billingshurst and many primaries, under The Weald and Horsham Behaviour Partnership.

Headteacher Richard Boyle said: “The idea was, through funding, to initially improve attendance at school, to reduce exclusion and to build up capacity within each of these schools so they could manage these kids in schools.

“We’ve had to withdraw staff that were working in these schools. But also, the funding wasn’t just for working in the community, it was also for our kids as well.”

One teacher had been made redundant and at least three other staff had not been replaced in the last term and a half, he added.

Mr Boyle said they would continue the work but it would be in-reach - at the school - rather than outreach work. He hoped in future the programme could be developed again.

It supports the schools in keeping pupils, known as those at risk of exclusion, at school and provides courses there for these children as an alternative curriculum. This was subsidised significantly from the funding.

Mr Boyle said the funding was £60,000 a year for four years - £30,000 to be used in the school and the other £30,000 outside in the locality with partner schools.

He added: “There’s no funding beyond next year. It’s £120,000 lost in support to the locality.

“In the long run, hopefully, we’ll be able to pick this up.”

He added that he didn’t realise the funding would be lost ‘so quickly and abruptly’.

Mr Gove responded to NASS with a letter in which he admitted his department’s error but also conceded that financial pressures on the DfE mean that schools will not receive their allocations in full.

The 21 affected schools have instead been offered only £15,000 each,

Muntham House School was set up to offer educational support for boys and young men who were unable to learn in mainstream education. The school works with a maximum of eight to a class group, taught by subject specialists.