top of page

(UK) Wirral: Council faces "overspends" in SPED and children's services; expected increases

Dec 6, 2022, Liverpool Echo: Fears education proposals could dismantle 'state schools as we know it' The comments came during a discussion of children's services and schools by Wirral Council

NW England

A Labour councillor said he's concerned government proposals to reform education in the UK would be the “dismantling of state schools as we know it.”

The comments were made by Cllr Stephen Bennett during a Wirral Council discussion of a government white paper published earlier this year. The local authority said it was in talks with schools on the proposals so they can be prepared if the legislation does pass.

The proposed government strategy seeks to ensure “excellent teachers in all areas of the country by increasing the teacher development programme”, “support for teachers to achieve high standards” with “greater focus on an effective curriculum"….

Some details are still to be finalised such as the ability for councils to set up their own multi academy trusts.

Multi academy trusts are groups of academy schools, which are state-funded but outside of local authority control. This means Wirral Council would no longer have a role in improving schools in Wirral nor the ability to have oversight. Cllr Bennett had concerns in particular about proposals for “all schools being part of a multi academy trust by 2030 through a national funding system.”

He called it “forced academisation” and said he was concerned about a situation where schools closed down but said he was “interested in pursuing” the idea of a local authority-run trust if the proposals become law.

James Blackhouse, the Assistant Director of Education, said the council had set up a steering group with headteachers to discuss the proposals and get feedback “to make sure it meets the needs of those schools.”…

Councillors also discussed forecasts on budgets for children’s services and education with projected overspends around child care costs and assistant travel for those with special needs….

The council was made to apologise and pay £4,400 to the teenager as well as £250 to the mother for “avoidable distress.” Officers outlined where the council had gone wrong but argued progress was being made such as a backlog of cases decreasing by 38% in just two months, progress one councillor described as “brilliant.” The numbers of children in care is also expected due to the cost of living crisis because of “pressure on families” with council expenditure here being nearly £26m [$32M] this year. The number in care is expected to increase next year, officers said.

Councillors were also told a council proposal for new beds and support for children and young people with learning difficulties, autism and presenting mental health difficulties in a property bought by the council could save the council £6,000 [$7,282] a week or more than £300,000 [$364K] a year.


bottom of page