Heads fear ‘bleak fu­ture ahead’

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - by TOM HERBERT tom.herbert@trin­i­tymir­ Twit­ter: @TRHer­bert

HEAD­TEACH­ERS in Buck­ing­hamshire have sent a let­ter to par­ents warn­ing them of “the bleak fu­ture ahead for all lo­cal schools”.

The warn­ing high­lights the “big­gest real-terms cut in ed­u­ca­tion spend­ing in a gen­er­a­tion” to par­ents as schools through­out the coun­try pre­pare for bud­get cuts.

It comes amid claims that schools face an av­er­age re­duc­tion in their bud­gets of 8% to 10% by 2020 and ahead of the planned in­tro­duc­tion of a new Na­tional Fund­ing For­mula (NFF).

The NFF is a plan to dis­trib­ute fund­ing for schools but with­out any fresh cash in­jec­tion, meaning some schools will see their bud­gets slashed.

The let­ter reads: “The harsh re­al­ity is that not only are our bud­gets be­ing squeezed, we are also hav­ing to take on ever more ex­pen­di­ture as the ser­vices that we have pre­vi­ously ac­cessed are ei­ther be­ing cut, charged for, or are fail­ing to op­er­ate prop­erly, as their bud­gets are also un­der se­vere pres­sure – this ap­plies to so­cial care, men­tal health and school im­prove­ment ser­vices, to name just three.

“The Gov­ern­ment is cur­rently find­ing sig­nif­i­cant amounts of money for a num­ber of ed­u­ca­tion schemes

which are ill-de­fined and un­likely to achieve their stated aims.

“We be­lieve that an ob­jec­tive ap­praisal of ed­u­ca­tion’s pri­or­i­ties would high­light core fund­ing as key to achiev­ing the world-class sys­tem that we would all agree is right for our chil­dren.”

Gov­ern­ment min­sters have also been slammed for be­ing “in de­nial” about school fund­ing, with the let­ter point­ing to­wards a “cri­sis in teacher re­cruit­ment” as an ex­am­ple of the need for in­vest­ment.

Rachel Smith, head­teacher of Bea­cons­field High School, said: “Our coun­try’s schools are en­trusted to sup­port and pre­pare the next gen­er­a­tion for their fu­ture, yet fall­ing fund­ing, com­bined with in­creased op­er­a­tional costs, fur­ther re­strains our abil­ity to de­liver the stan­dards and op­por­tu­ni­ties that each and every stu­dent de­serves.

“Bea­cons­field High School is amongst the low­est funded in the coun­try, with lim­ited op­por­tu­ni­ties for ad­di­tional fund­ing for spe­cial ed­u­ca­tional needs and stu­dent de­pri­va­tion, so we have to find in­creas­ingly in­no­va­tive ways to bring en­rich­ment to our stu­dents.

“We re­ceive such in­cred­i­bly gen­er­ous sup- port with our fundrais­ing ini­tia­tives and ac­tiv­i­ties from par­ents, and are ac­tively build­ing re­la­tion­ships with lo­cal and na­tional busi­nesses to cre­ate di­rect and in­di­rect op­por­tu­ni­ties for fund­ing.

“But the fu­ture of school fund­ing lies in gal­vanis­ing schools, par­ents, lo­cal community and Gov­ern­ment to work to­gether in pro­vid­ing ap­pro­pri­ate in­fra­struc­ture, and to cre­ate the same ed­u­ca­tional op- por­tu­ni­ties for every sin­gle child in the UK, wher­ever they live or what­ever type of school they at­tend.”

A spokesper­son for the Chiltern Hills Academy, in Che­sham, said: “The head­teacher has seen the let­ter and it is be­ing dis­cussed with the gov­er­nors.”

Nick Wil­son, ed­u­ca­tion di­rec­tor for Bucks County Coun­cil, said: “We have been lob­by­ing for many years with other lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to im­prove the level of school fund­ing across the coun­try and more specif­i­cally for Buck­ing­hamshire schools.

“Our cur­rent un­der­stand­ing is that 85% of Buck­ing­hamshire schools would re­ceive ad­di­tional fund­ing with the pro­posed new fund­ing for­mula.

“The county coun­cil’s lob­by­ing for a greater share of na­tional fund­ing ac­knowl­edges that run­ning schools has be­come more ex­pen­sive with more pupils, so al­though schools may well get an in­crease in fund­ing, it may not be enough to meet the de­mands of a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion with more chil­dren.”

The let­ter urges par­ents to con­tact their lo­cal MP about the cri­sis as head­teach­ers seek to draw more at­ten­tion to the is­sue.

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