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Friday, 30 March, 2001, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Funds for small schools guaranteed
Satterthwaite and Rusland primary
Satterthwaite and Rusland primary - with 16 pupils - benefits from the scheme
A fund to help small schools in England stay open is to be kept until at least 2004, the School Standards Minister, Estelle Morris pledged.

The Small Schools Fund, worth 80m a year, enables schools to come together to pay for teacher training, support staff - such as bursars - and joint lessons.

Without the fund my admin day would go and I would also be in school one day a week on my own

Allan Wilson, head of a small school
The money would help small rural primary and secondary schools, which may have just one teacher, to cut the cost of red tape and use computer technology more efficiently, Ms Morris told the National Association of Head Teachers in York.

"In the last year we have provided over 80m to give extra support to small schools," Ms Morris said.

"Our guarantee on continued funding over the next three years reinforces our commitment to the crucial role that small schools play, particularly in rural areas.

"It comes along with this government's successful protection of small schools - only two have closed since September 1999 compared with around 30 a year in the 80s and early 90s."

'Good news'

News that the fund was guaranteed until 2004 was welcomed by heads in small schools.

Allan Wilson, head of Satterthwaite and Rusland primary in Cumbria, said: "Money coming in is always good news and knowing that it's going on for four years is nice to know, because you don't always know."

Mr Wilson, whose schools caters for 16 pupils aged between four and 11, uses his allowance from the Small Schools Fund to pay for two part-time teachers for the infant class.

"And one comes in for an extra day a week which frees me up to do some admin work," Mr Wilson added.

"Without the fund that day would go and I would also be in school one day a week on my own," he said.

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See also:

07 Jun 99 | Education
New fears for Scottish rural schools
17 Jun 98 | Education
Make or break for 'smallest school'
28 Nov 00 | Education
Rural schools staying open
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