The Isle of Wight MP has accused Isle of Wight councillors of endangering education by delaying school closures until after next year's election, but the cabinet member for education and children's services says Bob Seely is not paying attention to how the situation has been developing.

Cllr Jonathan Bacon called Mr Seely's words "a political attack."

School representatives have warned too many empty places in Island primaries are affecting funding, leading to shortfalls and further financial pressures.

In the 2022 to 2023 school year, there were more than 200 empty seats in Island classrooms, because there were not enough children to fill them.

In a statement released on Monday (Jan 22), Conservative Mr Seely said the council's Alliance Administration’s delay on “closing unviable primary schools” puts all schools under pressure and "wracks up school debt at a time when teachers need to be supported in driving up school standards.”

Mr Seely accused the Alliance of “refusing to listen to senior teachers” and the council’s decision had “reversed" officers' recommendations.

He said: “What the Alliance is doing has delayed necessary change, caused unnecessary problems and denied funding to schools and schoolchildren.”

The council is currently setting up its own childrens’ services and educational department, as it leaves a decade-long partnership with Hampshire County Council.

However, it has previously said it could not create its own services and sort out the empty school places issue at the same time.

Cllr Bacon says the advice to the council was to wait until it had full control of education on the Island, putting all Island schools on an equal footing, before restarting the process.

A step forward is expected by Easter, according to Cllr Bacon's comment in November, and if school closures are required, the formal process would be likely to start in the summer term. Any agreed closures would take effect from autumn 2025.

Responding to Mr Seely’s recent comments, Cllr Bacon said the MP was “plainly on transmit, rather than receive" and "had been repeating the same mantra since November."

He said: “It has been made crystal clear, in public statements and direct communications to him, there is no reverse but rather development of the situation.”

Cllr Bacon said he has offered to meet with Mr Seely to update and brief him and the pair are expected to catch up in the coming weeks.

A new children's services director, Ashley Whittaker, is due to start in February and Cllr Bacon says 'positive discussions on how to improve the Island’s education system' have already been had.

A spokesperson for the National Education Union, which represents schools and teachers, Peter Shreeve, said schools have been trying to cope with "historic underfunding" since 2010.

He said the amount schools get from the government per pupil has not kept up with inflation.