'Don't use us as a pawn,' school tells Lib Dems

A LEAFLET, distributed by the Lib Dems in and around Chinnor has outraged a village primary school by making assumptions about the school's 'lack' of funding.

The flyer, which a member of staff from Mill Lane Primary school first brought to the attention of the headteacher and the governors,claims in its headline that Mill Lane is subject to a 'budget squeeze'.

Steve Moody, the Vice Chairman of the school's board of governors, says the leaflet implies that the school is therefore struggling by saying the school received a rise in funding that was below the 3.1 per cent inflation rate.

"In fact, due to good leadership and management practices within the school, the planned spending for this year will be 8.3 per cent higher than last," said Mr Moody.

He went on to say that Mill Lane was not consulted about the article in the leaflet. Inside the hand-out, there is a picture of the Lib Dem's Henley by-election candidate Stephen Kearney in the presence of two young children. "I would like to emphasise that we do not know who the children are. They are not Mill Lane pupils and the Lib Dem candidate has never visited the school," said Mr Moody.

A spokesman from the Liberal Democrats' by-election team, which has been running a strong campaign, said the photograph of Mr Kearney was a stock image that is used in relation to schools and education.

He went on to say that, following a meeting between the Lib Dems and Mr Moody, it was agreed the figures contained in the leaflet were obtained from Oxford County Council following an information request. "The figures we have got are accurate in the funding per pupil and we think the school are doing a great job, managing a very difficult budget and the Government in our view are under-funding local schools.

"We are happy that the figures are accurate and we will be clarifying our position in our next leaflet. Our figures stand up but the tone of the language in the leaflet is something we need to look at in the future."

Mr Moody added: "What perturbs us most is that both village schools are high-performing with Key Stage 2 results well above county and national averages, but Mill Lane is being stigmatised as the one with a 'budget-squeeze.' Nothing could be further from reality, but what will parents of prospective pupils think now?

"The real issue is that rural primaries by their very success have been burgeoning needs, but the funding formulae are skewed in favour of urban schools