Anger over funding cut for Oldfield Primary School

Grace Witherden

A popular school which is midway through expansion says it doesn’t know what it is going to do after a decision was taken to cut its funding.

Oldfield Primary School, which moved to a new site in Bray Road in 2012 to expand, will have its growth funding reduced from £53,000 a year to £21,000 after a decision was made at the Royal Borough’s Schools Forum. However the school says it was promised the full funding by the borough before it expanded.

Local authorities can take a portion of the Dedicated Schools Grant to create a growth fund, which is used to provide extra places to meet the basic need.

Richard Jarrett, headteacher at the school, said he doesn’t know how it will cope.

“We have it in writing that we were promised by the council the growth funding would remain until we had finished expanding,” he said.

“The key issue here is communication, when you’re promised some-thing you expect it to be done. If we knew before we could have planned ahead, but you expect that amount of money.

“They should stand up and honour that agreement. It questions the integrity of the local authority.

“I’ve had to think about whether I can get away with not cutting the grass, leaving the weeds to grow or not cleaning the windows.

“We will do what we have to do to put the children first.”

At the forum, which took place in the council chambers on Monday, Cllr Derek Wilson (Con, Oldfield) and Cllr Geoff Hill (Con, Oldfield) spoke about the pressure on the school due to town centre development.

The report, which was approved by the forum, stated the new scheme would produce ‘winners and losers’ but this proposal would ‘enable all schools to receive a consistent level of funding’.

Alison Alexander, strategic director for adult, children and health services, said: “Schools Forum agreed in October 2014 that funding for additional classes would be in place for three years.

"The school lobbied Schools Forum which is representatives from primary, secondary, faith, maintained and academy schools in the borough

"Schools Forum felt unable to agree to the request of Oldfield School.

“One of the reasons for this is because the only way to provide more funding for Oldfield is to remove money from the other 65 schools in the borough.

“Oldfield will receive £63,655 over the next three years, on top of the amount they have received so far – £185,387 over three years to support their growth in pupil numbers.”

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