Council leader slammed for 'naive' School documentary remark

Members of staff from CSET
Image caption Several schools in South Gloucestershire featured in the programme

A council leader has been criticised for saying people who believed a BBC documentary that highlighted school pressures were "naive".

School featured an academy trust in South Gloucestershire and showed one school in special measures.

Conservative Toby Savage said the programme was "always likely" to focus on negatives for ratings.

But Labour's Ian Boulton said: "I find it offensive you're calling my residents naive.

"Please don't dismiss anyone who says this is their experience," he added.

South Gloucestershire Council is currently consulting on how to fill a £3m shortfall in funding for special educational needs.

Mr Savage told a council meeting, covered by the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "Funding is a significant challenge for schools in South Gloucestershire and the programme demonstrates this, but to take this TV series completely at face value is naïve."

He said the production company was "always likely to focus on the most controversial and provocative aspects that will earn them the most ratings".

School has focussed on the CSET trust and featured Castle, Marlwood and Mangotsfield schools which are on the outskirts of Bristol.

Image caption The six-part series discovers the tough decisions schools have to make

South Gloucestershire's consultation over its £3m shortfall produced three options, which included taking money from mainstream schools.

Some schools in the council area, following advice from a group of head teachers, have replied to the consultation saying that "none of the options are acceptable".

Mr Savage said special educational needs (SEN) was "out of control".

"We don't have the provision to educate SEN children here. We have to send them out of authority, miles away from where they live."

He said the council now had a "very significant" programme of investment to help it.

Image caption The Multi-Academy Trust featured in the series is responsible for educating 5,000 students

A spokesman for the Department for Education said it "recognised the budgeting challenges schools face and that we are asking them to do more".

He added: "South Gloucestershire will receive an increase of 5.3% per pupil for its schools by 2019/2020, compared to 2017/18 funding levels - which is an increase of £8.8m when rising pupil numbers are taken into account."

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