Cabinet agrees to consult on changes to schools services

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Councillors in Calderdale have agreed to begin consultations on the provision of services to schools, such as careers advice and education welfare services, in a bid to save up to £2m.

Members are considering whether the support services should still be provided by Calderdale Council or by another provider, potentially from the private sector. Senior councillors have agreed to hold a consultation which will get underway in the New Year.

The authority said yesterday that as schools become increasingly autonomous, the option to purchase advice and guidance and many other services from alternative providers was clear.

In addition, the council faces a reduction in funding for school services as more schools opt to become academies.

Under the Education Act 2011, schools will be required to purchase independent external careers advice. In the proposals agreed by cabinet members, the council would retain responsibility only for providing assistance to vulnerable young people.

Education welfare officers have a responsibility for pupils with poor attendance records and for dealing with children missing education. It is proposed that a small team would be retained but it would then be the responsibility of groups of schools to choose how they provide education welfare services in the future. The authority is also facing a reduction in grants it receives to support the work.

The council’s lead member for children’s services, Coun Megan Swift, said: “As schools become more independent of local authorities, we need to take a long, hard look at the services that we provide.

“But the Children and Young people’s Service faces a £2.5m overspend in the current financial year and we have to cut our cloth accordingly.”

Meanwhile, the authority announced that another consultation will also be held on the its controversial plans to move Halifax Library after a public outcry.

The council wants to pull down the central library, which its says would cost between £4m and £6m to renovate, and build one near the Piece Hall as part of wider development plans that would also see council offices in Northgate House pulled down to make way for a retail development.