Failed education bill means council must now foot the bill

Martin Tett

Martin Tett

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Buckinghamshire County Council Leader Martin Tett has criticised the Government for pulling the plug on its proposed Education bill, as councils now face a £600million gap in funding to help struggling schools.

Local authorities, including Bucks County Council, say they have been left in a state of limbo by the Government’s axing of educational services grants.

The ‘education for all bill’ would have curtailed the role of local authorities in maintaining community schools in England, delegating responsibility to central government.

The failure of the bill means that local councils are still expected to run school improvement services and meet other costs that include maternity cover for teachers, but without the central government funding that the bill promised.

Leader of Bucks County Council, Councillor Martin Tett, said: “What we now have is a situation where the grant is being removed but the responsibilities will remain, particularly the statutory responsibility with regard to school improvement.

“And councils at the moment – particularly upper-tier councils, like county councils – are very financially stretched,” Councillor Tett explained.

“This is a massive issue for us, because we have an important role in school improvement – not only supporting schools that require improvement or are in special measures, but actually stopping schools from reaching that stage in first place, by intervening early in a preventative approach,” Councillor Tett added.

The cuts will affect nearly 20,000 state schools which are still maintained by their local authorities, rather than the fewer than 5,000 academies which are funded directly by central government.