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Surbiton school's hours may be slashed amid council budget cuts

Grand Avenue Primary School may have to reduce its hours if planned budget cuts go ahead.

That is the message from the Grand Avenue Primary School Parents Association (Gaspa) as they prepare to present their petition to Kingston Council.

The petition calls for the council to “fully consult with headteachers and respect the decisions they make” and “not further reduce our school budget”.

Gaspa, and all 626 people who signed the petition, are against education cuts.

Last financial year, the petition states, £17,189 was taken from Grand Avenue Primary and Nursery School’s budget, and that this year the council is asking it to cut further by up to £61,408.

The petition claims: “Staff have worked hard to find savings where possible and we are at a point where savings of this scale are impossible without a reduction in staff and/or schooling hours.”

Because the petition received more than 500 signatures, it will be debated by councillors at a meeting on Tuesday, July 17.

Council officers have prepared a report in response, in which they place the blame for the financial pressure on school budgets directly on increasing demand for high needs services - such as for children with special educational needs or disabilities.

The report states there is an estimated £8 million shortfall in the high needs education budget in this financial year, which the council decided was unaffordable.

Schools and the council met and decided to move £300,000 from schools’ general budgets to fund children with Education Health and Care Plan, to address some of the shortfall.

And a £3 million advance from the government has also been negotiated to help fill the gap, while longer term solutions are found.

The report claims that after high needs funding has been redistributed, Grand Avenue School has been given £39,000 more in 2018/19 than last year, representing a per-pupil rise of nearly 2 per cent, and pointed to the £316,529 in the school’s reserves.

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