Exeter Daily | Exeter councillors angry over school funding cuts

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16 January 2017

Exeter councillors angry over school funding cuts

In the last few weeks there has been news of some major changes to school funding which will have a significant impact on schools in Exeter.  The first of these was the prediction in late December by the National Audit Office that overall schools in England would suffer a real-terms cut of 8% by 2020.

At the same time the government set out its plans for a new National Funding Formula to provide money to schools in a fairer way, intended to end what has been described as a postcode lottery.  Under the present system on an annual basis Devon gets £270 per pupil less than the national average.   Unfortunately, the new scheme when fully operational would increase the amount of money coming to Devon by just 0.38%.  In Exeter the level of funding would actually decrease a little, by 0.14%.

The National Union of Teachers has calculated that as a result of both the above, in Exeter on average each student faces a cut of £420 in annual funding comparing the situation in 2015/16 with that in 2019/20.  Details of the impact on individual schools can be found at http://www.schoolcuts.org.uk/

Labour city councillor Hannah Packham has said, “These cuts are extremely worrying; our children deserve a fully funded education.  We know that local schools will do their best to protect children’s education, and mitigate the impact of the cuts where they can; however, cuts of this scale will inevitably mean increased class sizes, a restriction of curriculum, reduction in resources, and staff losses”.

More recently, Devon County Council decided on 11th January to transfer £2.22 million from Individual Schools Budgets to the Higher Needs budget for children with special education needs to meet a significant deficit in the latter.  This will result in a reduction of £33 per pupil in the core funding that schools receive.  This will undoubtedly make it even more difficult for schools in Exeter to cope.

County councillor Andy Hannan, also Labour, said at the Cabinet meeting that decided to make this transfer that, “What this represents is a failure of central government to properly fund education.  So much hope has been placed in so-called fair funding, especially for counties like Devon which is significantly below the national average.  This government has instead failed to properly fund education on a fair basis and in particular to meet the needs of pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, and it has failed Devon schools.

It is alarming that Devon is having to go against its own schools in making this transfer and that the position is unlikely to improve in the future.  Once again a Conservative government underfunds a public service and this county, like others, ends up having to suffer the consequences.

I applaud the letter-writing campaign the council is leading to get MPs to put pressure on the government.  Ultimately, though, local Conservative MPs need to vote against the government to get it to reconsider.  Will they?  I doubt it.”

 

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E&E Community News | St Thomas – Local Grants

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10 March 2016

E&E Community News | St Thomas – Local Grants

During the current financial year , St Thomas Cllrs Hannah Packham and Rob Hannaford have agreed the following community grants for local groups and residents.

St Thomas Methodist Church: £300 for raised beds.

St Thomas Bowling Club: £200 for a new hot water urn .

Pinces Garden: £300 for a Garden Party this coming May.

Pinces Gardens Bowling Club: £300 for new crockery and folding tables.

Age UK: £225 towards a Dementia allotment project.

The Bloom’In St Thomas Group: £300 for new wildflower plantings.

St Thomas Allotment Association: £100 towards new notice boards

Cllr Packham said: “ It’s been great to use these local grants in St Thomas for a range of very worthwhile projects.

“It often means that when an issue arises , or a piece of equipment goes wrong , we can be proactive straight away.

“For many small organisations relying on volunteers, grants up to three hundred pounds can make a big difference.

“Where some local projects serve more than one ward , we can on occasions agree cluster funding from several ward budgets. Please keep coming forward to us with your ideas , projects and suggestions”

Fellow St Thomas Cllr Rob Hannaford , who originally set up these grants when he was the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Communities, added: “These delegated ward grants that all City Councillors have each year do a huge amount of good positive work across the whole city , that often add value to the grass roots fund raising efforts by volunteers.

“Over many years we have always made full use of them in and around St Thomas.

“This includes supporting all sorts of charities , church groups , community organisations , and sports clubs.”

Cllr Hannaford added: “Another important element to the grants is providing local ward members with an important tool in fulfilling their leadership role of local community champions.

“This work is very important at the moment , with public sector cuts and reducing central government funding , in that we work with local people to achieve sustainable projects  and generally promote resilience.“

The recent budget setting meeting at the City Council confirmed that each of the new three member wards will have £3,000 each.

If people would like information , guidance , or to make an application. they are encouraged to make contact with their local councillors , or Dawn Rivers, the Community Involvement and Inclusion Officer at the City Council, who can be emailed at  dawn.rivers@exeter.gov.uk .

The Exeter Daily | Community orchard planted in #BartonFields #EXEStThomas

 

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Community orchard planted in Exeter

More than 50 people turned out on Saturday to plant a community orchard in Cowick Barton Fields.

Wheelbarrows
Wheelbarrows at the read [Photo: Joe Levy]
Families, local residents and tree enthusiasts all braved the mud and cold wind with shovels, wheelbarrows and 15 native, locally grown trees in hand.

The orchard is part of a project funded by Alcoa that has seen Active Devon team up with Exeter City Council to create an activity trail across Cowick Barton Fields.

This means that, rather than being a conventionally shaped orchard, the trees – including pear, mulberry, damson and cherry – run in a line that will allow people to follow the trail and enjoy the trees’ produce.

Ben in orchard
Ben Bradshaw MP lending a hand planting a tree

Laura Robinson, Community Organiser and coordinator for the Activity Trail, hopes that the orchard and the trail as a whole will have a positive impact on the local community and the health and wellbeing of its residents: The aim of the activity trail is to increase the amount of physical activity locally. The trees will enhance the space and provide more opportunities for community events such as harvesting and food education.

In addition to the community orchard, the event was also used to plant a new Lucombe Oak, a variety of tree that was originally grown in William Lucombe’s nursery around 250 years ago in what is now Pinces Gardens.

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Cllr Hannah Packham with the Lucombe Oak

This particular tree was grafted from an original Lucombe Oak, now sited at Killerton House, just outside Exeter. Local residents Yvonne Fryer and Julia Harbor, who have done extensive research on the Lucombe Oak’s relationship with Exeter and were the driving force behind its reintroduction to Cowick Barton Fields, had the honour of planting the tree, with support and enthusiasm from a small crowd of onlookers and spade bearers.

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Yvonne Fryer and Julia Harbor plant the Lucombe Oak

Everyone present felt the event was a huge success and Laura Robinson felt it reflected the strength of the local community: “The day highlighted the amazing community spirit of St Thomas, from residents and local groups that have been involved as well as new faces coming together to enhance this treasured green space.”

Members of the public are being encouraged to take pictures of the trees and share them @activedevon @laurarobinsonCO #activetrail to raise awareness of the community orchard.

 

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Me with Ben Bradshaw and Hannah Packham

My comment:
This is what community organising and community involvement is all aboiut – far to many people to thank for all their hard work in the lead up to the weekend and on the day itself, but you know who you are. Your all bloomin’ marvellous.

Next stop the tree trail around ‪#‎EXEStThomas‬!

 

Why the #LemonSelfie photos from #Exeter’s #EndAusterityNOW rally?

At the Devon People’s Assembly #EndAusterityNOW rally in Northernhay Gardens several people were carrying lemons (any maybe a few limes). Why?

The answer is easy – as a symbol of austerity.

I had seen photos of protestors squeezing lemons at an Italian demonstration against austerity from 2011 and thought it might make for some striking images to illustrate our opposition to austerity here in Exeter.

So why a lemon?

Austerity’s original meaning, taken from the Greek word austeros, was “bitter or harsh taste – like that of lemons.

And that’s the bitter aftertaste of Tory austerity for the past 5 years…sucking on lemons.

There’s a saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”

Cllr Paul Bull - #LemonSelfie
Cllr Paul Bull – #LemonSelfie
CllrHannah Packham - #LemonSelfie
CllrHannah Packham – #LemonSelfie
Cllr Phil Bialyk - #LemonSelfie
Cllr Phil Bialyk – #LemonSelfie
Group #LemonSelfie - We're all bitter here!
Group #LemonSelfie – “We’re all bitter here!”

And there’s the added advantage of using the remainder – with a touch of honey – to soothe our sore throats after shouting ourself hoarse