Newquay schools lose out on millions in 'essential' funding
THREE primary schools in the Newquay area have lost out on millions in "essential" funding to cope with the soaring pressure on reception class places.
St Columb Minor Academy, The Bishops' School and Indian Queens School were part of a group of eight countywide that were set to benefit from an £18.8 million cash boost.
But the Education Funding Agency (EFA) has told Cornwall Council it will receive just £7.8 million to implement the scheme. Education officers at the unitary authority say the money is not enough to complete the planned building work, even if they downgrade to using mobile classrooms.
The news has been met with anger by community leaders, including Newquay Cornwall councillor Geoff Brown.
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However, head teachers at two of the schools told the Cornish Guardian they were confident they will be able to build new classrooms to soak up the rise in demand for places. Four new classrooms have already been built at St Columb Minor at a cost of £800,000, funded by the school and Section 106 payments from developers in the town. The academy is expected to take an extra 90 pupils over the next three years.
Head Jennie Walker said: "We managed this project ourselves and achieved outstanding value for money."
Head teacher Jo Osborne said The Bishops' was looking to increase its annual intake from 30 to 45 pupils by building a three-classroom extension.
"This is still viable and we are looking to work with a local contractor if possible to keep costs down," she said, adding, "without new classrooms we cannot take any extra children."
In April last year Indian Queens School was placed top of a Cornwall-wide priority list for emergency funding and it was proposed a tenth classroom should be built.
The promised funding, called Targeted Basic Need Funding, was aimed at providing 840 extra primary places in Newquay, St Austell, Bodmin and Redruth, where pressure on schools was deemed to be highest.
The Department for Education (DfE) has refuted the council's claims that it broke its funding promise, although councillor Andrew Wallis, lead member for children and young people, claims he has written documentation proving the £18.8 million bid had been approved.
Mr Brown, a former head teacher who represents the Newquay central division, said he was "furious" at the "misinformation" from the Government.
He said: "I have written to our MP Stephen Gilbert asking for his support as the funding is essential to address the longstanding pressure on school places in Newquay especially."
Mr Gilbert said: "I will be working closely with those schools that haven't got the amounts that they bid for from this pot to make sure that they are able to cope with the additional demands on their service."
A Cornwall Council report published last year revealed Newquay faced a shortfall of 168 places by 2015.
The council could not provide details on how much money each of the eight schools were due to receive under the Targeted Basic Need Funding scheme.