Lyndale School Consultation Meeting: Kingsway, funding and hydrotherapy pools (part 6)
Next Monday evening (starting at 6.15pm), at a meeting of all councillors at Wallasey Town Hall, Brighton Street in the Council Chamber the issue of Lyndale School is on the agenda again. There is a notice of motion on it (which is the second notice of motion in that list of notices of motion) proposed by Councillor Paul Hayes and seconded by Councillor Jeff Green. As it’s short a copy of the notice of motion that councillors will be voting on is below:
Council, having regard to the support given to the campaign to keep the Lyndale School open by the public of Wirral, resolves that:
1. It is the firm belief of Council that the Lyndale School should remain open, and in order to bring to an end the anguish and uncertainty suffered by pupils and their parents and carers, calls upon Cabinet to confirm that the school will remain open when Cabinet next meets.
2. Council recognises the unique and caring environment provided by the Lyndale School to children with profound and multiple learning difficulties. Council acknowledges the value of this provision and affirms its belief that such provision should remain at the Lyndale School.
3. Council instructs officers to work with the Wirral School’s Forum in order to investigate how the funding of Wirral’s Special Schools can more closely reflect the will of Wirral’s residents, as expressed by the huge support given to the Lyndale School: that the quality and scale of provision for children requiring the services of special schools in Wirral should continually strive to improve and be in no way diminished.
Once the notice of motion is debated, all councillors present at the meeting (apart from the Mayor who traditionally abstains) will have to either vote for, against or abstain. Probably five or more councillors will call for a card vote which means each councillors name will be individually read out and they’ll have to say which way they are voting.
Mindful of the upcoming debate, I therefore thought I’d continue my write up of the last consultation meeting held at the Acre Lane Professional Excellence Centre just before the consultation ended. If you’re interested in the last bit I wrote about this meeting, it can be found on this blog at “Lyndale School Consultation Meeting: questions about the sensory garden, resources, Elleray Park and Stanley (Part 5)“.
David Armstrong said, “In terms of Kingsway, it’s difficult to talk about the school and then appeal. Kingsway was in the final round within six years of primary reviews, Kingsway was in the final round and the decision was that we would review Kingsway at a future date, the date was set for some date but we’ve actually left it longer than that.
We had a hundred primary schools, we went down to ninety, of that ninety there are four that still struggle financially under those arrangements. Struggle to set a balanced budget because of their numbers, it is problematic. It’s a mainstream school who gets its funding in different ways, it can set and does set a balanced budget.
The issue about Lyndale is its financial stability in the long-term because it is the local context of Lyndale is there, there’s also the national context identified and I’ve assured Members of that expression. In Kingsway, we haven’t gone back, but at some point there’s a Council resolution to go back and revisit Kingsway.
I’ll make it clear, it’s not about the quality of the education or about the quality of the school, I must clearly point out, this is not about any failings at Lyndale, it’s about the medium to long-term financial stability at Lyndale. It’s about can we promise when they’re putting their child in there aged four, can we promise that that school they’re attending will be there for ever and ever?”
Julia Hassall said, “Ian, I would just add, in terms of the Lyndale School, there’s been concerns about the future of the school going back to about 2008/9 and I think that that concentrates my mind throughout all of this process and genuinely thinking about the best needs of how we meet the needs of the children is I want to be able to put something forward and Cabinet will make their own view, put something forward that is about the long-term sustainability.”
Ian Lewis said, “Well I accept all you’ve said. Five years ago as Councillor Mitchell said, a resolution goes to full Council and every single one of those sixty-six councillors said keep this school open. That was five years ago and right now the concerns about viability if you’d listened then, when we told you to keep it open, the message is keep it open, not come back, not keep coming back and trying to close it because you think you’re right.”
Julia Hassall replied, “No, no, the significant difference Ian now to five years ago, is the government have changed the funding formula. So Lyndale is currently funded as if there were actually forty children in that school and over the last seven years, the numbers have gone down. It’s been about fifty odd percent occupancy in the school and following the exact funding formula, it will mean that at some point, the £10,000 per a child will have to be applied and that will mean £230,000 for twenty-three children as opposed to £400,000 because there aren’t the children in the places.”
Ian Lewis said, “Will that financial cost be disbursed with the children from Lyndale wherever they went?”
Julia Hassall replied, “No.”
Ian Lewis asked another question to which Julia Hassall replied, “The bit that comes into play is that if you are part of a bigger school you have the hydrotherapy pool for example will be there for the whole school population.”
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