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Funding for school repairs in the region are slashed
FUNDING for school repairs has been slashed for the third year running across the region, raising fresh fears of leaking roofs and crumbling classrooms.
Local authority schools will receive a total of £63.06m in the year from April, down from £81.15m in 2012-13 - a fall of 22.3 per cent.
The figures do not include cash that goes directly to independent ‘academies’. There are more such schools than 12 months ago.
That helps explains the extraordinary fall in funding for Darlington – which has halved, to just £1.18m – because all its secondaries are now academies.
However, even the surge of academies cannot explain huge funding cuts in County Durham (23.4 per cent), Hartlepool (21.2 per cent), Middlesbrough (43.9 per cent) and North Yorkshire (19.1 per cent).
In 2010-11, capital funding for schools across the region was £177m – almost three times the sum now set to go to local authority schools.
Instead, the North-East and North Yorkshire appear to be victims of a shift to building new classrooms where school rolls are expanding – which is mainly in the South.
That has left less in the spending pot for tackling the backlog of repairs to buildings, or for giving head teachers direct funding for new equipment, such as IT.
Announcing the £3.2bn settlement for 2013-14, Education Secretary Michael Gove admitted: “Some local authorities will see their funding go up, while others will see funding levels go down.
“This reflects changes in the number of new school places required in different areas of the country, as well as the use of more detailed data, and it is right that money is allocated where it is needed.”
But Stephen Twigg, Labour’s schools spokesman, said: “It is no wonder that many schools are in poor repair and overcrowded. Hundreds of school rebuilding projects have been cancelled - and only three per cent of schools which need repairs have been rebuilt in three years.”
Last year, cash was promised to rebuild 26 North-East schools in the worst state of repair, under the Priority School Building (PSB) programme.
But, as The Northern Echo revealed in January, at least five – including at Seaham School of Technology, in County Durham – are in jeopardy, after the collapse of a private finance (PFI) deal.
* Mr Gove’s funding decision came just 24 hours after he sparked anger by claiming he could “smell the sense of defeatism” in East Durham schools.
The Northern Echo again asked the department for education (Dfe) if the Education Secretary had visited any schools in the area, but, again, received no response.
Local Labour MPs are expected to try to put Mr Gove on the spot when he answers monthly education questions, in the Commons, on Monday.
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