Cumbria's Rural Schools Face Funding Crisis
A leading group of education leaders has issued a stark warning about the financial crisis facing small schools, including almost all Cumbrian primary schools and eleven secondary schools. South Lakeland MP Tim Farron has said these concerns show the government is neglecting small schools in rural areas.
The interim General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders has said that "At some smaller schools, the funding will become such that they would not be able to support their teaching infrastructure…They will not be financially viable." He added that schools would "are going to fall off a cliff financially or run into a wall in 2017."
The ASCL highlighted in particular primary schools with just one class per year group - which includes almost all of the rural primary schools in Cumbria - as well as secondary schools with fewer than 600 pupils, of which there are 11 in Cumbria.
The government had previously promised to bring forward plans for a fairer funding formula for schools to help those in rural areas. This had been due to begin from next year, but has now been postponed until 2018-19.
Tim said: "In small towns and villages across Cumbria, rural schools are struggling under the burden of budget cuts. I visit many schools and see the fantastic job that our hardworking teachers do. However, the bottom line is that the government cannot expect severe cuts not to have an impact on children's education. Parents want the best for their children and are understandably worried. The government must not neglect schools in rural areas."