Opted-out schools 'face budget cuts under new funding rules'

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

OPTED-OUT schools will face budget cuts of up to pounds 200,000 under new government funding rules.

Figures published yesterday by Local Schools Information, an independent body funded mainly by local authorities, show that 630 of 693 opted-out schools are receiving double funding of up to pounds 230,000 for services.

It says when the new funding rules are phased in from next April, these schools will lose the money they have gained. Martin Rogers of LSI said: 'These gains are not only unjustifiable but unsustainable so parents are being misled into expecting a financial gain which cannot last.'

The report says local authorities are being overcharged pounds 26m, with Essex, Kent and Hertfordshire losing more than pounds 2m each. A spokesman for the Department for Education said the Government had just finished a consultation on new funding rules for opted out schools. 'The report has jumped the gun,' he said. 'There are no proposals for phasing out the extra money on the table at the moment.'

The double funding arises because the Government allowed schools opting out before April 1993 to receive a special grant worth 15 per cent of local authority funding to make up for services such as library staff that councils provided. However, some councils are allowing less than 6 per cent for central services. Under the scheme, four schools are gaining more than pounds 200,000 a year and 201 more than pounds 50,000, the report says.

The Government's crusade to introduce self-governing schools to Scotland was dealt a new blow yesterday when parents of Paisley Grammar School in Strathclyde voted 986 to 248 against opting out of local authority control. Of the 14 Scottish schools that have voted, eight have opposed the proposals.