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Education Bill Backward Step For Rural Children

Education Bill Backward Step For Rural Children And Parents

The Labour Government's Education Amendment Bill will set back rural children's education by reducing their range of learning options, and erode rural parent's choice, according to Federated Farmers.

The federation's education spokesperson, Roger Barton, spoke to the Select Committee examining the Bill today.

"The Bill seems to be more about better using the existing infrastructure than pupils acquiring the best possible education."

Federated Farmers opposes the ending of bulk funding, which has benefited those rural schools that have chosen it. The federation also opposes the imposition of stricter enrolment controls that will remove schools' discretion to write their own enrolment policies for out of zone children.

"We are unaware of any evidence that bulk funding has disadvantaged any rural school that has chosen it," said Mr Barton. "The funding method is important because it enables far more flexibility, which in turn has made it easier for rural schools to attract teachers."

"This flexibility has in some cases enabled the school to buy resources to ease teacher's workloads, or increase the choice of subjects offered."

"Federated Farmers opposes the changes to the enrolment regulations because it will restrict the choice that rural parents now enjoy about where to send their children."

"The new scheme is less likely to encourage better management of those schools with declining rolls because the schools will have a guaranteed catchment of pupils. Problems that would normally be indicated by student flight will be disguised."

However, the federation did support the flexibility proposed for schools' governance. This allows rural schools to find imaginative methods to govern schools."

"There is some irony in the Government's push for increased flexibility in governance while at the same time removing the flexibility of bulk funding," concluded Mr Barton.


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