West Sussex governors threaten ‘strike’ action over school funding

West Sussex governors threaten 'strike' over school funding

CREDIT: This story was first seen on BBC News

School governors in West Sussex are writing to MPs to warn them they will refuse to sign off budgets or carry out their supervisory work, BBC News reports.

They are backing local headteachers who have warned they might have to cut school hours because of cash shortages.

But the DfE says schools in England are receiving record levels of funding.

The letter from governing bodies says they have been in “shock and incomprehension” about what funding cuts will mean for schools.

Schools in West Sussex have been at the forefront of a national campaign over funding – with heads warning that they face cutting teaching staff, merging classes or reducing school hours.

School governors – including parents and representatives from the local community – do not get paid, but they have a responsibility of oversight for how schools are run, appointing staff and scrutinising school finances.

And governing bodies in West Sussex are warning that unless their “urgent concerns” about a lack of funding are addressed, they will withdraw their services.

This could cause administrative problems – but it will be seen as symbolic support for an increasingly vocal campaign over school funding.

The letter from governing bodies, usually seen as moderate voices, warns of the need for “direct action” over funding problems.

They warn that they cannot “sit idly by” as schools are put in an “impossible financial situation”.

But governors say they will continue to work where there are any issues concerning child protection.

Headteachers in West Sussex have organised a Worth Less? campaign, highlighting their concerns about underfunding of schools in the local authority.

The heads of almost every state school in the authority signed a petition supporting the protest – and the campaigners are expecting a high level of support from governing bodies.

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The National Governors Association is also calling on the government to increase overall funding for schools – but it is not offering its formal support for governing bodies withdrawing their services.

Last week it was revealed that £384m, earmarked for schools in England under academy conversion plans, had been taken back by the Treasury.

The National Audit Office has warned that schools face £3bn in spending cuts by 2020.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb will face questions from MPs on school funding and questions about how it is to be redistributed under a new funding formula.

The DfE has said that the core school budget has been protected in real terms – and that funding for schools in 2016-17 is at record levels of more than £40bn.

The department has argued that the new funding formula will provide a much fairer basis for allocating funds to schools and will give head teachers more certainty over their future budgets and long-term planning.

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