£1m emergency fund helps crisis-hit Leeds schools

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Leeds City Council has signed off almost £1m of emergency funding to help schools who found themselves in financial crisis in the past year.

City education bosses have just approved the recommendations of the council’s Schools Forum, an advisory panel.

A report seen by the YEP agrees the allocation of £983,992 from a special £1m schools contingency fund “to support schools in financial difficulty”.

Among those named in the list of schools helped is Corpus Christi College, where the funds were required to help deal with the aftermath of the Ann Maguire tragedy.

Council papers show that three schools submitted requests for major funding help in 2014/15. The panel also considered requests from schools “in respect of commuted pension costs, where schools are required to make staffing reductions in order to address budget issues”,

Corpus Christi College was awarded just over £300,000. The report said: “The panel were sympathetic to the situation the school finds itself in following the tragic event at the school. They also recognise that due to the circumstances the full financial impact of the event [is] not yet clear, so will be happy to consider further applications in the future.”

Other major grants included £137,000 to Royds School, in South Leeds, which made a formal complaint to Ofsted earlier this year after it was downgraded to ‘inadequate’ in its latest inspection with the ‘safety of pupils’ highlighted as a major factor.

Paul Brennan, Leeds City Council’s deputy director of children’s services, said: “The funding for schools in financial difficulty provides funding for schools to deal with unexpected costs. This is mainly needed where schools are required to make staffing reductions and incur additional pension costs. It is also needed when other costs are incurred (usually in exceptional circumstances) which will put the school into a deficit, and the school cannot make savings within its own budget to redress the balance.

“The funding for Corpus Christi relates to additional costs that were needed to ensure they were able to continue to operate effectively during the difficult circumstances last year.”