SCHOOL FUNDING CRISIS WARNING
Heads fear ‘bleak future ahead’
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.