CREDIT: This story was first seen in the Guardian
Headteachers of state secondary schools in a London borough have sent a “desperate” plea for parents to lobby MPs and councils to ward off budget cuts of eight to 10 per cent that they say will have a devastating impact on their children’s education, the Guardian reports.
A letter sent to all parents of secondary schoolchildren in the Liberal Democrat-controlled borough of Sutton, south-west London, states: “The future looks bleak. Next year means more expenses for schools. Inflation is increasing too. Local authority cuts mean that schools are expected to do more with less.”
The letter explains the cause of budget pressures the schools face and criticises the government and the DfE’s claims to have protected “core schools funding” with record levels of funding nationally.
“Schools will have to consider fewer teachers, larger classes, less choice, less support for students and families, fewer opportunities, trips or co-curricular activities. In some areas of the country, schools are already cutting school hours. Others are suggesting a four-day week to reduce staffing demand and utility bills,” the letter tells parents.
The schools are unhappy at Sutton council proposals to slice 0.5% off funds it currently devolves to secondary and primary schools. That would come on top of reductions in funding for sixth-form education by central government, cuts in education services grants, and increases in wages, national insurance and pension contributions to be paid by schools.
Nathan Cole, the headteacher of Wilson’s school in Wallington, said the Sutton schools felt parents were not getting enough information on the budget pressures and facts about government funding.
“The secondary schools of Sutton, who work in partnership, felt that it was in the public interest that the reality be known,” Cole said after the letter was distributed on Friday.
“We are close to crisis,” the letter concludes, adding: “Headteachers are not known for their militancy. However, this information, sent to all parents of secondary age children in the London borough of Sutton, is a cry for help.
“We need you to help us signal to local and central government that school funding is in crisis. They are not listening to us and we hope they might instead listen to you.
“We would not contact you in this way if the situation wasn’t desperate. Please take a little time to draft an email or a letter to those who you have elected to speak on your behalf and encourage all you know, in whichever part of the country, to do the same.”
The letter is similar to others being drawn up around England, with schools increasingly asking parents for contributions, in some cases to pay for core items such as textbooks and classroom supplies.
A report by the National Audit Office said schools face cuts of eight per cent in real terms by 2019-20, while the government’s new funding formula is viewed with increasing scepticism by backbench Tory MPs alarmed that schools in their constituencies will fail to benefit or, in many cases, even lose funding.
Grammar schools have also campaigned against the formula, and an increasing number are asking parents for regular donations amounting to £600 a year.
In a further sign of problems ahead for the government, the usually moderate Association of School and College Leaders announced that a veteran headteacher, Geoff Barton, was elected as its new general secretary in a landslide victory, after campaigning to aggressively fight the government’s funding policies.
The DfE responded that spending on schools was nominally at the highest level on record. “The government has protected the core schools budget in real terms since 2010, but the system for distributing that funding across the country is unfair, opaque and outdated,” a spokesperson said.
“It is based on patchy and inconsistent decisions that have built up over many years and on data that is over a decade old. We are going to end the historic postcode lottery in school funding.”