I understand the school has now terminated Funzone from 31 August blaming “unilateral actions” taken by Funzone, which I can only take to mean a reference to Funzone speaking out. This appears, at face value, to be a punitive action by the school and has resulted in them losing a customer and the associated £12,000 per year income, which is bound to have an impact on the finances of the academy. Clearly, not a commercially sensible move.
The impact on families and children as a result of this situation is deeply regrettable and was a situation that simply did not need to happen.
The Education and Skills Funding Agency has not forced the school to implement a rent increase – it provides guidance via the Academies Handbook. This guidance is not quite a set of statutory directions, though funding implications can result for academies that fail to follow the handbook. We get it’s serious, but it’s not legislation.
However the school and its governing body has issued emails and letters stating that they ‘must’ implement a nearly 600% increase and that is has been done “by order” of the Education and Skills Funding Agency. In reality no such order has been made.
So far as we are aware there has been no specified threat to funding from the ESFA, and had there been any such problem or issue we as the councillors and MP would have been happy to support the school in coming to a solution with the ESFA that could have avoided this situation. We think laying the blame at the door of the ESFA is dubious.
To be clear: we accept that a school may increase charges if it wishes, we don’t object to an increase in principle but there are ways to do this in a way that doesn’t destroy a business and devastate families and children. A 600% increase at short notice with no stepping or smoothing whatsoever is not it.
Craig, Rachel, and I are writing to the Education & Skills Funding Agency to request an investigation of this matter and clarification of their position and involvement, and we are supporting the business and parents at this difficult time. We all understand and appreciate the anguish you feel.
We are thinking about hosting a public meeting over the summer holidays – if you’d like to attend such a meeting please let me know in the comments.