Fears over school funding crisis

Julian Baldwin

Julian Baldwin - Credit: Archant

A HEADTEACHER from Backwell fears a lack of school funding will soon have a serious impact on its ability to provide excellent education for its pupils.

Backwell School’s headteacher Julian Baldwin stressed that a number of schools have made significant cuts to cope with rising costs, but could now face large deficits unless funding allocations are increased.

He added that despite assurances from the coalition Government that education funding would not be reduced, school budgets have been stretched to crisis point.

Mr Baldwin is now calling on parents to lobby for changes to be made ahead of this year’s election.

In a letter to parents, he explained how the money the academy receives has not changed but other costs have increased, including inflation, two pay rises for teachers and support staff and major rises in employer contribution to pensions.

He said: “These increases have not been paid for by the Government and therefore have had to be paid out of our (protected) funding.

“Add to this the major cuts in other areas of money that schools receive from the Government - 80 per cent less money for building repairs and refurbishment, a 20 per cent cut in sixth form funding and significantly reduced funding to support children with special educational needs.

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“The reality is that schools, like Backwell, are now being expected to do far more with far less money.”

Mr Baldwin has also hit out at the Government for breaking its promise to introduce a national formula to ensure all children would receive the same funding wherever they live.

There can be a 30-50 per cent difference in the money allocated for children who are the same age but live in a different part of the country.

Mr Baldwin added: “Schools in rural and semi-rural locations, such as Backwell, are the ones that suffer the most from this unequal funding.

“In fact Backwell School, along with a number of other schools in the South West, is one of the 200 worst funded schools in the country.

“Backwell School has made major savings in terms of staff, resources and on non-essential activities without lowering the standard of all-round education that we offer students.

“But, the governors and I are now at the point where we fear that a lack of funding will have a serious impact on our ability to continue to provide excellent education for all our young people.

“We are not yet in a critical financial situation but we need to plan ahead and for the future.

“These young people are our future and they deserve an excellent education. We will all benefit.”

Mr Baldwin and several secondary school headteachers, including Gary Lewis at Gordano School in Portishead, are pressing the Government for fairer funding to enable them to continue providing a high standard of education.

Backwell School parents have also been asked to write to political parties ahead of the election to voice their concerns and to contact Dr Liam Fox MP who is supporting the campaign.