Redundancies suggested as cuts to Nottingham schools debated in Parliament

CREDIT: This story was first seen in The Nottingham Post

A head teacher has said may be forced to make redundancies due to proposed budget cuts, as the state of education in Nottingham has been debated in Parliament, The Nottingham Post reports.

Nottingham’s MPs came together for a debate in Parliament around the new funding formula, which is expected to come into effect in April next year.

Exact details are yet to be finalised, but the government’s predictions showed that every single school in Nottingham would lose money in real terms.

School minister Nick Gibb stopped short of saying that school funding would be protected in real terms, but gave assurances that no school would lose money in cash terms, appearing to contradict the government’s own forecast made last year.

Terry Smith is the head teacher at Greenfield Community School, an outstanding primary school in the Meadows, and is expecting to have to make cuts of £115,000 a year in a school of just 210 pupils.

He said: “It’s quite a worrying position that we’re in, the budgets for next year are already looking very concerning.

“It’s been difficult across the city, because Nottingham is very much on the up in terms of results, but we’re getting concerned about our ability to keep that up.

“The figures we have been given at the moment, we’re looking at Nottingham City losing £22m a year, which is £578 per child across the city. That’s a significant amount.”

Adequate funding, especially for schools serving areas of high deprivation is essential

He also said he was aware that several other schools across the city were considering making staff redundant.

He said: “But now Nick Gibb has said that no school will lose money in April (When the new funding formula comes in), so it’s a very confusing position, and that makes it difficult to plan or set budgets.”

The Westminster Hall debate was secured by Nottingham South MP Lilian Greenwood, and aimed to gain assurances from the Government that real-terms funding would not be cut at any school.

She said: “I could fill hours with the testimony of dedicated school staff who feel that this government is not giving them the support they need.

“Adequate funding, especially for schools serving areas of high deprivation is essential. Schools cannot keep doing more with less.

“They are at breaking point.

“On top of the existing level of real terms cuts we also face the prospect of a new national funding formula that will take money away from every single school in my constituency.

“I welcome the minister’s promise that “there will be no cut in per pupil funding as a consequence of moving to the national fair funding formula” but as he well knows, protecting a budget in cash terms is no protection at all.

“With rising inflation and increasing demands – for example for introduction of much-needed mental health support – school leaders simply feel unable to deliver what is asked of them.”

Adequate funding, especially for schools serving areas of high deprivation is essential. Schools cannot keep doing more with less

Newly-elected Labour MP for Nottingham North, Alex Norris added his thoughts to the debate, saying of Lilian Greenwood: “We have both spent a lot of time talking to parents outside school gates. It’s impossible to overstate the strength of feeling on this topic.”

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He said there was ‘dismay’ across the city at the idea that there might be cuts to schools.

He said: “Whether you’re right wing or left wing, regardless of your politics, people don’t see this as a sensible idea.

“The public will watch us discuss cuts, they will watch us talk about real terms and about cash terms, and that will be a political argument for now, but will mean nought in the future, because when people see P45s go out to teachers or to teaching assistants, that’s what parents will understand, and parents will not see that as a good thing.”

In 2015 it was revealed that secondary schools in Nottingham were the best funded outside of London but were some of the worst performing in the country.

Answering the questions, the schools minister concurred with the three Nottinghamshire MPs, that there had been significant improvements in results in recent years.

He said: “The government wants to make sure that every child receives a world-class education regardless of their background or where they live, and we have made significant progress.

“In Nottingham there are nearly 8,000 more children who are now in good or outstanding schools than in 2010.

“But the pace of improvements in some parts of the country, including Nottingham, is not good enough. I remain concerned about the state of education in Nottingham.”

Speaking about the funding formula he said: “I have spent a lot of time over the last months meeting school teachers, parents and governors from all around the country, and from those conversations I have never been more convinced that our current funding system is broken. The data we use to allocate funding is more than a decade out of date, it is an unfair and anachronistic method to distribute funding.”

We want to make sure all children, regardless of where they live or their background, have a world-class education that unlocks their talent and creates opportunity

He said the new system would be ‘consistent and transparent’ and said he will make sure that ‘no school has its funding cut as a result of the new formula’.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “We want to make sure all children, regardless of where they live or their background, have a world-class education that unlocks their talent and creates opportunity. Thanks to our reforms there are 1.8 million more children in schools rated good or outstanding than in 2010.

“The core schools budget is set to rise from £41bn in 2017-18 to over £42bn in 2019-20 with increasing pupil numbers.

“We have also consulted on a national funding formula for schools to make funding fairer. We received over 25,000 responses to the consultation, which we are analysing in detail and will respond to in due course.”

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