BOURNEMOUTH MP Sir Conor Burns has called for the education secretary to step in and help stop BCP Council from slashing education funding. 

The MP for Bournemouth West has met up with Gillian Keegan after he was “extremely concerned and unsettled” by the council’s rise in education budget deficit. 

When it formed in April 2019, BCP Council’s deficit was £3.6m. However, this is expected to rise to £63m in March. 

Sir Conor said BCP Council will “essentially plunder” 11 per cent of the school’s direct grant funding to fix it and would “take the amount going into schools below the minimum amount that the government has guaranteed”. 

Bournemouth Echo: Sir Conor speaking at a recent meeting with the education secretarySir Conor speaking at a recent meeting with the education secretary (Image: Conor Burns)

Speaking to the Echo after his meeting with the education secretary last week, he said: “I wanted to essentially seek two things from the education secretary. 

“Firstly to make her aware that any plan emanating from BCP Council does not currently enjoy the confidence of local headteachers. 

“Secondly, this is being done in private. I asked the education secretary for her undertaking that the government would enter into no agreement with BCP Council on their plans to fund the school budgets until such time as we've had an opportunity as local MPs to be involved in this and to fully engage head teachers across the area in their thoughts on what is best for their schools and also for the vulnerable young people that they serve with special educational needs or disabilities.” 

Sir Conor said he has been speaking to parents who are “extremely unsettled” while headteachers are “deep unease about how BCP Council over the last four years has managed the problem”. 

Read more: Headteacher has 'no confidence' in BCP Council to manage budget

“This is not a problem of the school’s making, this is a problem of BCP Council’s making. How many times over the years have we read with problems with the council? 

The idea that the schools should be made to pay for the ineptitude of others is simply wrong.  

“What we've got to do is get everybody around the table collaboratively to work on the solution that everybody can agree on.” 

Responding to questions around government spending on councils, Sir Conor replied: “There is a record amount of money going into schools since 2010 and I'm very proud over the years that almost every school in my area has seen capital improvement. 

“We're currently seeing well north of £20 million rebuild of Oak Academy in Duck Lane following the complete rebuild of Bourne Academy, this is not a problem that has been created by central government. This is a problem that was made in the town hall.” 

Last week BCP councillor Richard Burton, portfolio holder for children and young people, said: “BCP Council has been participating in the Safety Valve Programme and considerable work has been undertaken, supported by the Department for Education (DfE) to look at the implication of meeting the requirements of the programme, balancing our deficit and meeting our regulatory and statutory duties.

“Throughout this work, the well-being of our children and young people and the quality of their education remains our absolute priority."