County Council set to debate school funding

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School funding reforms are back on the agenda for the next meeting of West Sussex County Council’s Children and Young People’s Services Select Committee, part of which will be webcast.

Last November the Committee debated Government changes to the way schools are funded which led to the County Council Cabinet Member for Education and Schools writing to Government Education Secretary Michael Gove expressing concerns raised by Members.

The letter from Peter Griffiths said the changes from April 2013 could have an impact on the ‘future viability’ of small primary and secondary schools and for schools in rural areas, as well as ‘an adverse impact in areas of high deprivation in rural and urban areas of West Sussex.’

At its meeting on Thursday, January 17, the Committee will look at the new factors and data that will be used to allocate High Needs funding for children with special needs and disabilities, and what recommendations to make to the Cabinet Member.

A report says: “The changes to funding High Needs are based on the principle of causing minimal turbulence in relation to existing budgets. As a result no groups of pupils should be disadvantaged by the new funding arrangements providing school governing bodies plan ahead and allocate their funding appropriately.”

The Committee will also be looking at changes to funding for what is known as Alternative Provision – provision for children who struggle to meet the demands of the normal school curriculum, or who are excluded from school, or who are not able to attend school on medical grounds.

This could lead to the creation of a West Sussex Alternative Provision College spread over a number of sites with possible sponsored Academy status.

The agenda also includes a debate on a petition submitted by the Worthing High School Academy Action Group via the Council’s on-line petition scheme.

The petition has asked ‘that the County Council cease its commitment to the academies programme in the light of the experiences of parents, students and staff at Worthing High School’.

This part of the meeting will be webcast and is scheduled to start at 2.15pm.

The agenda also includes an update on the county council’s proposed budget for 2013/14 and how this will impact on services to children and young people.

Committee chairman Richard Burrett said: “It will be a very varied and interesting meeting covering some important topics.”

The meeting is being held at County Hall, Chichester, from 10am, and the webcast can be accessed from