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Posted by: John Brace | 2nd October 2014

Isn’t it time Wirral Council got their sums right on Lyndale School?

Isn’t it time Wirral Council got their sums right on Lyndale School?

Councillor Tony Smith (Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services) at the Special Cabinet Meeting of 4th September 2014 to discuss Lyndale School L to R Cllr Stuart Whittingham, Cllr Tony Smith, Cllr Bernie Mooney and Lyndzay Roberts

Councillor Tony Smith (Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services) at the Special Cabinet Meeting of 4th September 2014 to discuss Lyndale School L to R Cllr Stuart Whittingham, Cllr Tony Smith (Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services), Cllr Bernie Mooney and Lyndzay Roberts

I’ve rewritten this blog post a few times as it is connected to tonight’s Coordinating Committee meeting about Lyndale School and the earlier Cabinet decision on the 4th September 2014.

The funding formula the government will use for allocating schools funding in 2015-16 hasn’t been decided yet and is now out to consultation.

It seems Wirral Council officers have for nearly a year been predicting what form the regulations will take. If changes are made to the regulations as a result of the current consultation it is also possible that this will change how much funding Wirral Council will receive in 2015-16 for Lyndale School.

Certainly it seems entirely premature at this stage to go through a consultation on closure when there is uncertainty at this point as to the funding regime.

However, where does this leave Lyndale School? Looking through the proposed regulations for school funding in 2015-16 a few things did occur to me.

There is a set amount, a lump sum that each primary school receives irrespective of its size of places or pupil numbers. This six-figure sum will be lost to Wirral Council if Lyndale School closes and would ultimately result in less money being spent on children.

One of Wirral Council’s arguments for closing Lyndale School, is that the £33,470 Lyndale would receive in inclusion funding in 2015-16 would be shared between the other ten special schools who would each receive an extra £3,347 each.

Actually that’s wrong. This is because £33,470 is a full year allocation and if Lyndale was closed, it would be done part way through the year (January 2016 is about three-quarters through the 2015-16 financial year). So Lyndale School would get about £25,102 for inclusion funding in that year, which would leave £8,368. This would then be shared between the ten special schools (if Lyndale closed) who would each receive a further £836.80 each, not £3,347.

This was an error in the Cabinet report to its meeting of 4th September 2014, repeated in Surjit Tour’s letter of 30th September 2014 and repeated in the papers for tonight’s meeting. The effect of which is to exaggerate the financial case for closing Lyndale School. To my recollection the error wasn’t highlighted during the Cabinet meeting on the 4th September 2014. However I’m sure there are possibly many other errors in Wirral Council’s education department’s arithmetic, with regards to Lyndale School funding, which I haven’t spotted yet (who in a twist of irony actually also have a duty to teach children mathematics).

I wonder if anyone will mention it tonight or has scrutiny died a horrible death at Wirral Council?

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