LAST month, when teachers, parents and trade unionists from all over the country descended on Parliament to call for more funding for schools, school standards minister Nick Gibb told them: "There are no cuts in funding. Schools' funding is driven by pupil numbers and, as pupil numbers rise, the amount of money schools receive will also increase."

This explanation conveniently ignores the plight of smaller, rural schools where pupil numbers are low and unlikely to increase.

His comments are also at odds with the many headteachers quoted by The Northern Echo on this topic in recent months, who say school budgets have been significantly reduced, leaving many with large deficits.

Durham County Council’s announcement of a major review to try to tackle such deficits, will no doubt be of concern to parents, pupils and staff, especially as the authority has not ruled out closures. Other, more likely, options include shared headteachers and federations.

But sharing heads can be fraught with difficulties, especially if sites are far apart, and runs the risk of leaving some schools without their own leader to maintain standards and drive attainment. Federations are often unpopular with parents and have crumbled in other parts of the region.

The council has tried to maintain the status quo by allowing some schools to operate with a deficit, but says the Government’s new funding formula makes this unsustainable.

Pupils and parents will be among those involved in the review. It would be interesting to know how Mr Gibb might explain to them there are ‘no cuts in funding’ while closures, federations and staff sharing remain on the table.