Crisis in South Glos schools as funds squeezed
Published on: 02 May 2017
MORE than 300 people turned out for a public meeting to launch the Fair Funding for all Schools - South Glos campaign and hundreds more have signed a petition calling for action.
So what’s it all about? Doesn’t the Government keep telling us that it is spending more on education than ever?
Yes, Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, told the meeting at the Holiday Inn in Hambrook on April 6, that’s true - but only because there are more schools and more children than before.
Individually, almost all schools are facing a squeeze on their budgets that is going to get worse, even before the introduction of the proposed new National Funding Formula in April 2018.
Increased National Insurance and pension contributions, wage rises and the apprenticeship levy mean that in real terms schools are set to have about eight per cent less money, according to the National Audit Office.
These constraints will force them to make tough choices: cutting jobs, reducing the curriculum and stopping trips and after-school clubs.
Head teachers say they are torn between wanting parents to be aware of the financial realities yet trying to reassure them that schools will do their very best for the children with the money they have available.
A website set up by the NUT and other unions - schoolcuts.org - gives predictions for every school in England and the budget crisis each could face by 2020 based on Department for Education figures.
It is these forecasts that have provoked anger around the country, feelings are running particularly high in South Gloucestershire, which has historically been one of the worst funded local authorities in the country. Schools in the district receive per-pupil funding that is several hundred pounds below that for Bristol, for example.
The National Funding Formula was supposed to iron out those differences, but campaigners say 98 per cent of children across the land will be worse off. Some Conservative MPs are putting pressure on Ministers to think again, and their views are shared by Tory leaders on South Gloucestershire Council.
That’s why Fair Funding for all Schools is urging parents, teachers and governors to lobby their local MPs - none of whom has yet spoken out against the formula - to persuade them to join the protest.
Ofsted concerns: Pages 10 & 11