Malmesbury headteachers have meeting with minister to discuss school funding crisis Featured

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TWO Malmesbury headteachers made the trip to London to lobby a government minister to think again over how schools in the town are funded.

Tim Gilson, of Malmesbury School, and Stephen Heal, of Malmesbury Primary School, met with Nick Gibb, Minister of State for School Standards on March 8.

North Wiltshire MP James Gray joined the meeting in Westminster to discuss concerns raised by the schools and parents alike.

The meeting came about as a result of a letter sent out by Mr Gilson to parents of pupils at Malmesbury School that said a lack of government funds could force severe cutbacks at the school in coming years.

The letter urged parents to contact their MP, Mr Gray, to highlight the issue and the meeting was eventually secured.

Mr Gray said: “The parents of Malmesbury have been assiduous in lobbying me, and I was glad to have the opportunity to pass on their concerns direct to the minister responsible.

“This Fair Funding Formula is a consultation which closes on March 22 with the government response due in July.

“The two headteachers and I very much hope that the minister will listen very carefully to the detailed points we made and that we may see some improvement in funding when it is announced.

“In answer to our invitation, the minister expressed an interest in visiting the school and I hope to welcome him to Malmesbury very soon.”

Mr Gilson, who says Malmesbury School could face increased class sizes, less choice over subjects and a reduction in resources if it doesn’t see an increase in funding, was pleased to have had the opportunity to “make the case”.

“I raised much the same issues as were in the letter I sent to parents,” he said.

“The specific things I talked about were additional limits on us from Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contracts, which mean we can’t make the savings and generate income through lettings.

“The other big issue was the particular case of our relative rural isolation, which makes collaborating with other sixth forms impossible.”

Malmesbury School has 13 years left on its 30-year PFI contract, which Mr Gilson argues handcuffs the school when it comes to trying to make savings.

“There are real benefits of the PFI, we have lovely facilities, but at a considerable cost,” he said.

Mr Gilson said he thought the minister was “very engaged” and “gave serious considerations” to the issues raised.

He added however: “I’m realistic enough to know he has limited room for manoeuvre.”

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