Councils protest over funding ‘unfairness’

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson

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PORTSMOUTH City Council is one of a number of local authorities challenging the Government on the way schools with academy status are funded.

The council says it has seen its schools budget slashed by £500,000 because academies are funded centrally by the Government, not by the council.

There is currently only one academy school in the city, Charter Academy, which was formerly the failing school St Luke’s.

Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said the budget cut was ‘unfair’.

He added: ‘We think Portsmouth City Council spent £40,000 on St Luke’s School, but the other £460,000 will have to be found from other school’s budgets.

‘We’ve got one academy in the city, and one other looking at becoming an academy, and if we had all 10 secondary schools convert to academies we still wouldn’t have that [budget] reduction.

‘This is an unfair cut to the schools and the local children in Portsmouth.’

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said Charter Academy receives roughly double the funding from the Government that other schools in the city can expect from the council.

‘That’s just wrong,’ he added.

The academy programme was set up when Labour was in power purely to try and turn around failing schools such as St Luke’s, but the coalition Government has said any school can apply to be an academy.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson added that a number of local authorities, regardless of which political party they are controlled by, have written to the Government to protest at the funding rules.

‘I think our job in council is to defend the local people from actions from anybody that we think are wrong.

‘I don’t think this is political at all.’