09:00AM, Friday 28 September 2018
The sustainability of Windsor first schools has been questioned after a council report predicted a surplus of places of almost 20 per cent by 2021.
Current projections estimate there will be 101 spare spaces in reception classes across the town next year.
This is set to rise to 108 by 2021, amounting to a surplus of 19.8 per cent.
Conservative councillor Ed Wilson told a meeting of the council’s children’s services overview and scrutiny panel on Wednesday that the figures raised questions over the sustainabillity of small first schools in Windsor.
He said: “I think we’ve said before on this board that small schools, whatever way you look at it, are just not sustainable in the future.
“It’s not just about getting funding, it’s about getting teachers in an area where they are hard to come by.”
“We have a lot of schools in Windsor where I think it would be very fair, but controversial, to say, are they sustainable?” said Cllr Wilson.
The fall in numbers has been put down to falling birth rates, which is only slightly countered by new housing and migration.
Cllr Wilson added there is a ‘disconnect’ between the public perception – that there are too few school places in Windsor – and the reality.
Kevin McDaniel, head of children’s services at the Royal Borough, told the meeting that a drop in pupil admissions could affect school budgets.
He said: “We need to be clear that when a school has a fall in the number of children coming in, that affects the money they get in the next financial year so we need to work with our schools to avoid them having a budget hole further down the line which they don’t see coming.”
Rob Harris, headteacher at Eton Wick First School, said he could not see how schools could make any more staffing changes if budgets were reduced.
He said: “I think, if you look at the national picture, schools across the country are struggling to maintain their staffing due to rising costs.
“I know the Government say that they are putting more money in but the costs of National Insurance, support staff pay and teacher pay are all going up.
“I don’t think people always appreciate that, the more children we have, the bigger our budget is,” he said.
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