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Row over funding for King's Academy
3:10pm Thursday 20th September 2012 in News
A LABOUR councillor has claimed the town’s first free school is being given up to three times more money than other high schools.
Clr Steve Parish (Bewsey and Whitecross) raised the issue during a full council meeting at the Town Hall last week.
He said: “It seems the pupils there are being funded at twice or even three times the per pupil cost of the rest of Warrington’s high school students because of a grant based on the number of pupils the school claimed it would have.
“They overestimated, and the scandal is that a free school could lie about its likely intake and be rewarded for it.
Maintained schools in Warrington get around £7,000 per child, with additional funding for those with special needs or on free school meals.
Clr Parish claims that funding at the free school has been allocated based on a prediction that 120 children would attend in the first year, meaning an initial budget of £840,000.
So far 38 children are attending King’s Leadership Academy Warrington.
That works out as around £22,000 per child, more than three times the ratio seen in maintained schools, according to Clr Parish.
However, Sir Iain Hall, who has led the free school project, refuted the claims and said he has been given less money than a maintained school.
He said a budget of £250,000 for the first year has been awarded by the Department for Education.
That is based on 45 pupils, to allow more children to join this year.
“It is no different to any other school that’s started up,” he said.
“We have only been funded for the children that we have.”
The Department for Education refused to give any information on funding.
Its free school policy was criticised by Clr Colin Froggatt, executive board member for children and young people’s services at Warrington Borough Council .
He said: “It is disgraceful that vast amounts of money is being spent on setting up free secondary schools when there are vacant places existing in secondary schools in the Warrington area.”