Schools face mounting repair bills and staff shortages due to funding cuts
PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 September 2019
Schools are at crisis point with huge repair bills, a lack of staff and outdated facilities.
Headteachers say they are struggling after years of funding cuts with staff hours cut back and a lack of support for children with special educational needs.
The Times sent a survey out to schools across North Somerset and responses revealed a long list of repairs needed on buildings which are 'tired, dated and unfit for 21st century educational needs'.
One school is in need of roof repairs totalling £200,000 and block refurbishment at £400,000.
Another needs to find £637,000 for a new heating system, while a third school is in need of two more classrooms which will cost £250,000.
Headteachers are calling for fairer funding to ensure pupils receive the same amount of money wherever they live, plus a review of school buildings.
One school said: "Buildings need to be assessed to measure if they are fit for purpose, particularly small rural schools.
"Some are over 100 years old and in need of urgent repair.
"The Government needs to listen to headteachers when they say they are at crisis point and in one to two years time any reserves accumulated in school budgets will be completely eliminated with no back up to secure their future in the local communities."
The list of items schools said they could not afford was even longer, including more teaching and learning support staff, books, IT equipment, classrooms and a new hall.
One headteacher summed up the dire situation, saying: "Best value costs are sought at all times. However the budget is more than 80 per cent staffing costs and while curriculum budgets are stagnant for the fourth year running. When a vacancy has occurred the post is reviewed and support staff hours have been cut.
"The leadership team is reduced compared to five years ago and the teaching timetable is planned to the minute."
Teachers said a fairer funding formula is needed so education is not a postcode lottery.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised schools an extra £14billion over the next three years to help with budget cuts.
This means every secondary school in Weston will receive at least £5,000 per pupil next year and every primary will get at least £4,000 per pupil from 2021-22.
A further £700million has been promised for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).