11:00AM, Thursday 21 June 2018
Cllr Simon Dudley labelled the story 'politically motivated nonsense'
A row has erupted over school funding after the leader of the council branded an Advertiser report ‘politically motivated nonsense’ and ‘fake news’.
Last week, the Advertiser published a story about St Edmund Campion Catholic School.
The school sent an email to parents with a link to an Amazon wishlist asking for essential classroom items and toilet paper, prompting concerns about national funding.
On Thursday, council leader Simon Dudley (Con, Maidenhead Riverside) took to Twitter to dismiss the concerns and labelled the article ‘fake news’.
The story created widespread debate over funding, with the National Education Union (NEU) joint division secretaries Claire Rhodes and Kristen Connell stating requests for donations by schools are a ‘clear and worrying indicator of the devastating effect of lack of investment in our education system’.
Other reports have raised questions over the published accounts of the academy trust which St Edmund Campion belongs to, pointing to a £500,000 fund balance for the school in 2017.
The school declined to comment when contacted by the Advertiser to discuss the accounts.
In the past week, the Advertiser has been contacted about other schools in the area asking parents to contribute towards resources.
Eton Wick School tweeted on Saturday: “We also have a wish list.
“Toilet paper isn’t on it though.
“Funding cuts have an impact on what we can provide the children.”
The Advertiser has also seen an email sent to parents at Furze Platt Infant School, stating it would no longer be subscribing to the borough’s library stock service due to ‘increasing financial restraints’.
It has also created an Amazon wishlist, and stated: “Moving forwards, our school library will be stocked entirely by donations, as well as fundraising through book suppliers such as Usborne Books and The Book People.”
Headteacher Marjorie Clementson said: “All schools work creatively and are always seeking different ways to provide an effective and efficient education in the best interests of the children. Whilst the school has decided not to renew its subscription to exchange books, it will continue to work with the library service through author visits, workshops, and assemblies.”
She added that the school is grateful to those families who have already voluntarily donated.
Cllr Dudley was not available for further comment.
Mystery surrounds the apparent removal and reappearance of free copies of the Advertiser at Maidenhead library over the course of the week.
Social media users pointed to the lack of availability of the newspaper, and there were no copies at hand when the Advertiser visited on Saturday.
On Tuesday, opposition councillor Lynne Jones (Ind, Old Windsor), tweeted: “Friday’s removal of the dispensing boxes of the Maidenhead Advertiser from the libraries on the orders of the council ‘administration’ gives us a good idea of what Cllr Dudley really thinks of democracy and free speech.”
She followed it up with another tweet later in the day: “So... the administration has confirmed this is to be the permanent position and that residents can read the paper at the library and collect the paper at local stores.
“Still no explanation of why... just that ‘they can’ most probably.”
The position appeared to have been reversed by Wednesday morning, with a dispenser of free newspapers available.
The Advertiser also understands newspapers are being ‘reinstated’ at Windsor library.
A spokesman for the Royal Borough said: “There are dispensers of free newspapers in Maidenhead and Windsor libraries where residents can take copies of various titles including the Maidenhead Advertiser, Mature Times and Families Magazine.
“Our libraries also have a range of local and national publications.”
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