The Government has announced a package of measures that it claims will “guarantee the continued success of small rural schools”.
Hundreds of small rural schools that currently receive no top-up money to address their “unique pressures” are now to benefit from school ‘sparsity’ funding.
The Department for Education says that a new national school funding formula will mean that an extra 700 of these schools will receive the money bringing the total to more than 1200 small, rural schools.
It also intends to introduce a new “double lock”, “so that when small rural schools convert to academy status, both local and national government have to agree to a school closing before a decision can be made”.
The DfE says no small successful schools will be forced to join a national academy chain and “small sustainable schools will be able to convert alone if they wish”.
There will be a £10m fund to provide any small schools that do want to convert with expert support and advice.
The National Association of Head Teachers described the announcement as “significant”. “The government has made clear that small rural schools are not under threat from its policies on school structure,” the association said.
“This will reassure the dedicated teachers and leaders in such schools, who are often at the heart of rural communities.
“We remain concerned, however, at the funding situation and await clarity on the revised funding formula.”