A Yorkshire Dales school is axing one of its classes as it prepares to face real-term budget cuts of more than £52,000 in the next two years under Government funding proposals.
Breaking the news in a letter to parents, the headteacher of Settle Primary School, Richard Wright, said the school would be reducing by a class size and “making further organisational changes” owing to a significant drop in budget and rising costs. Mainly affecting classes from nursery to Year 3, it will lead in some cases to mixed-age classes. However, care will be taken to keep class sizes at a reasonable level, Mr Wright said.
Urging parents to lobby MPs and councillors, he wrote: “The pressure on very small schools is enormous. During my time as headteacher at Settle, I have personally witnessed the closure of Langcliffe Primary School, Lower Bentham Primary, Richard Thornton Primary and the two middle schools at Ingleton and Settle. Currently there are proposals for closure at
Horton in Ribblesdale and Rathmell Primary Schools.
“For schools like ours it means restructuring and in our case, sadly losing a class. For others the challenge is even greater. Every rural school will be affected in some way, and with the budget costs proposed under the new national funding formula there are even more serious times ahead.”
However, Conservative MP for Skipton and Ripon Julian Smith argued that the new proposed national funding formula would actually see Settle Primary School’s budget increase, according to Government figures.
He said: “This illustrative data suggested that, were the proposed formula to be implemented, Settle Primary School would see a 2.4 per cent increase in its budget in the first year of transition (2018-19) – an increase from £677,000 to £694,000. I am doing everything that I can to ensure the process will result in a fairer funding system for rural schools, including the schools in our area.”