PUPILS at Southrop Primary School welcomed Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown on site last week as he visited to discuss funding changes for schools across the county.
Headteacher at the school Allan Brown wrote to the MP last summer to voice his concerns about proposed funding changes for schools and their potential to affect a large number of rural primary school pupils.
He explained to the MP that, despite moves by central government to offer protection to small schools, decisions made by the Schools’ Forum and Gloucestershire County Council meant these measures would have no affect on budgets for primary schools in the county.
“If the school is not funded at the right level, the children would not receive the right education,” he said.
The overall amount of money that Gloucestershire schools will receive is not going to significantly change, but the way that funding is distributed to schools will, as the government has instructed local authorities to simplify the way they allocate the funding.
Currently Gloucestershire uses a wide range of formula factors to ensure that funding can be targeted at schools that need it most. Under the changes only 10 factors can be used to make decisions on how funding is allocated.
As the county has a large number of small rural primary schools, the funding decision has the potential to affect large numbers of pupils. in the area.
Mr Clifton-Brown said he was working hard to make sure that no matter where children went to school in the county, they would receive the right funding.
“Gloucestershire is one of the lowest funded education authorities, out of 40,” he said. “Schools here will face reductions under these new changes but we’re working hard to ensure children receive the correct funding.”
The MP went on to say that at the moment some schools receive around £5,000 in funding whereas others only receive £2,000.
“It’s not fair. What we’re trying to achieve isn’t easy but it’s for the fairness of the children,” he said.
Mr Clifton-Brown described Southrop Primary as “a lovely village school” and said he has always had an attraction to little rural schools as he attended one himself.
While visiting he received a tour from members of the school council and was then interviewed by pupils for a podcast.
The children asked the MP if he had enjoyed his tour of the school and why he had wanted to become an MP.
Southrop Primary School, near Lechlade, has just under 50 pupils. Despite its small size the school’s academic results are above average and extra -curricular opportunities were described as “impressive” by Ofsted last year.