Dear St Marylebone community,
For information and, should you wish, action:
You might know that there is a high profile campaign led by headteachers across the country aimed at improving the dire state of school funding. I joined 2000 other heads in a march to 11 Downing Street at the end of September. There has been a good deal of press coverage since, including this interview I did with the BBC last week. The campaign is called Worth Less?
The campaign is stepping up further following the wholly inadequate consideration of schools in the Chancellor’s recent budget. £400m has been given to schools to spend on “little extras” (did he mean “children”?). It’s worth about £50k per secondary school and can only be spent on capital projects. When we are looking at losing £1million over five years, this is paltry. I’m not even convinced we will see this money.
The Government will say that they’ve out £1.3 billion into schools in recent years but the fact is that:
1. we do not see this at school level; per-pupil funding is decreasing in our school by £100 annually
2. schools have suffered an 8% reduction in income in real terms in recent years
3. schools have to cope with ever-increasing costs (inflation, NI, pension contributions, pay awards, rates to name just a few) and our income does not rise in line with this
4. schools have to pick up a huge range of issues due to the reduction in services at local authorities – with no funding to support this
Below is the latest statement from the Worth Less? campaign and attached is a related the article in the Sunday Times this weekend.
Please feel free to share this with others – family, friends, contacts (though the leader of Worth Less? has asked that it does not go onto social media). You can also adapt this to send in a letter to your MP. It is vital that we overcome the myth that schools are suitably-funded and that Mr Hammond’s gesture towards “little extras” falls woefully short of what we need and what our young people deserve.
Thank you for your support.
Ms K Pugh
Worth Less? No, we are not.
Worth Less? has 52 counties covering 6-7000 schools with a reach to approximately 3million families. We represent every type of school and academy ranging from grammars and rural primaries to state secondary and special schools. As an influential group we are actively considering a wide variety of actions to highlight the unsustainable financial pressures schools are facing.
Funding cuts have been continuous over several years. Many schools have lost at least 10% of their budgets in real terms and this can represent hundreds of thousands of pounds. Doing ‘more with less’ is one thing but delivering on every conceivable area of each pupil’s education and well-being – whilst being stripped of reasonable resources – is quite another.
Heads remain determined to do what’s right by every child in every school but we are being placed in an impossible situation. We have spent years making our contribution to a challenging period of austerity but enough is enough. If we continue to be funded inadequately then our schools will become a pale shadow of what parents expect.
Ø Children across the country deserve support in every lesson in every subject. Funding cuts are increasing class sizes. Every day, all across the country, more children are left without the individual support they need.
Ø Children deserve qualified and experienced teachers in their classrooms. Funding cuts are driving workload up and teachers are leaving the profession like never before. England’s schools are being stripped of expertise and children robbed of specialist subject teaching. Classrooms are already being denied adequate levels pupil support as the numbers of classroom assistants is rapidly reduced.
Ø Our young people need access, through our schools, to mental health and well-being support. Funding cuts are stripping schools of this capacity. Schools are ending support contracts and making support workers redundant. Today, to some, it may seem like a saving on public expenditure. Tomorrow, it could be their child who joins an 18 month waiting list for a mental health support because the school counsellor isn’t there anymore.
Ø A quality education includes the creative arts. In schools, across the country, music, art and drama are being removed from the timetable. Schools can’t sustain smaller classes for these subjects. One third of GCSE provision in these subjects has already been removed, nationally. Funding cuts are destroying these vital opportunities.
Ø Parents expect and deserve our schools to provide access to opportunities beyond the classroom. These activities cost money to provide. Funding cuts are already removing out of hours provision – such as Duke of Edinburgh award schemes – from our schools. It’s not good enough that these chances are open only to those who can pay.
Our headteachers universally welcome any extra money from the Budget but it is too little too late. Across our network we are most concerned about vulnerable pupils with SEND and other challenges in their lives and how to meet their needs going forward. In light of this Worth Less? can confirm that:
1. Children come first: we will no longer have the capacity to co-operate with any Government initiatives that don’t meet the fundamental needs of pupils.
2. Children come first, and our special needs pupils are top of the list : we will go over the heads of ministers and writing direct to 600 plus MPs (excluding ministers) saying – ‘yes or no’ should there be emergency funding for SEND and the High Needs Block? We will publish each response. Any nil response will be considered as a ‘no’.
3. Children come first: schools are already charging for extra-curricular activities / after school clubs and asking for parental donations to prop up our budgets. This dire situation will get even worse unless real terms cuts are reversed.
4. Children come first: our schools can no longer meet welfare needs routinely. We will refer parents directly back to relevant support services such as social care, CAMHS and the police as and when schools do not have the capacity to resolve ‘gaps’ in LA provision that they routinely cover at present
5. Children come first: we will set illegal deficit budgets rather than denude our capacity any more. Some schools already have.
Worth Less? will request an emergency meeting with the Secretary of State in order to try and find collaborative and reasonable solutions but the Department for Education and the Treasury must stop burying its head in the sand and come out and truly lead and support schools in a time of unprecedented crisis.
We will also call on our 3 million parents to make their voices heard: loud and clear on behalf of our country’s children
Thank you for hearing and championing our cause.
Jules White, Headteacher, Tantridge House School, on behalf of Worth Less?