Children numbers outstrip funding

21st November 2003 at 00:00
Telford and Wrekin council is in the unusual position of having to cope with rising pupil numbers.

Nationally there will be 1 per cent fewer pupils in secondary schools in four years' time, but Telford and Wrekin is planning a new secondary to cope with an estimated 900 more pupils.

The Labour-run authority argues that it is losing out because the way that the Government calculates funding does not keep pace with Telford's growth.

It is estimated the population in the area will grow by 2,000 a year for the next 20 years as people move into the area.

The Government has said that schools where rolls are rising will get a 4 per cent increase per pupil for existing pupils but 3.4 per cent for new pupils.

There is also a delay of 15 months between the pupil figures being counted and the money arriving at the authority.

This year the authority spent more than the government had assessed it needed on education. But with around two-thirds of its 85 schools facing deficit budgets it had to raid reserves to keep them in the black. It will get almost pound;91m for education next year.

As The TES went to press the authority's accountants were working out how the settlement would affect schools.

Before this week's announcement councillors estimated they needed the equivalent of a 15 per cent rise in council tax - up from pound;13 a week to pound;15 - to meet next year's commitments.

The final figure will depend on how much extra the council gets from government, and whether savings can be found.

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