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Suffolk could be set for £11.5million reduction in school budget for next two years, education unions warn

PUBLISHED: 06:28 14 February 2018 | UPDATED: 06:28 14 February 2018

Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for education Gordon Jones. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER

Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for education Gordon Jones. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER

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Suffolk schools could be hit with an £11.5million funding decrease over the next two years, according to latest estimates from education unions.

Suffolk schools could be in for £11.5million worth of funding cuts, according to union estimates. Picture: JETTA PRODUCTIONS/GETTY IMAGES/THINKSTOCK PHOTOS Suffolk schools could be in for £11.5million worth of funding cuts, according to union estimates. Picture: JETTA PRODUCTIONS/GETTY IMAGES/THINKSTOCK PHOTOS

The website School Cuts, launched by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), has compiled estimated figures for each school on how much its funding will be reduced, based on school block funding allocations for 2015/16 and inflation estimates until 2020.

The data revealed that across Suffolk, the budget could reduce by £11.5million by 2020 – with 232 of the county’s 295 schools facing cuts.

Graham White, Suffolk National Education Union press officer and national executive member for Suffolk, said: “The government despite its protestations is not valuing education for our children.

“It is forcing schools to make cuts which will directly impact in a negative way on our children’s education.

Graham White from Suffolk NUT. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT Graham White from Suffolk NUT. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

“The worst hit children will be those most in need.

He added: “Schools have been facing cuts for some time and there are no more ‘efficiency savings’ to be made now.”

Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for education, said it was a concern with budgets tighter than ever before.

He added: “The underfunding of Suffolk schools has been consistently challenged at a national level by the council throughout its current administration and as an active member of the F40 group – the 40 lowest funded councils in England for schools – we have tirelessly campaigned with ministers and MPs on a national and local level for fairer funding for Suffolk pupils and will continue to do so.”

According to the unions' figures, Chantry Academy could be among the worst hit. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR According to the unions' figures, Chantry Academy could be among the worst hit. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

According to the estimates, the county could face a reduction equivalent to £126 per pupil.

However, the Department for Education has disputed the figures. They said schools across Suffolk will see a funding increase of 4.7% – more than £18.3million – through their formula.

Minister for School Standards Nick Gibb said: “The unions’ figures are fundamentally misleading. They are based on historical data and do not reflect the situation in our schools today.

“They also ignore the fact that schools funding is driven by pupil numbers and, as pupil numbers rise, the amount of money schools receive will also increase.”

The department’s new formula will allocate a cash increase of at least 1% per pupil to every school by 2019-20, Mr Gibb added.

Potential effect on Suffolk schools

Among one of the hardest hit schools in Suffolk according to the unions’ data is Chantry Academy, which could be set to reduce by around £330,000.

Principal Craig D’Cunha said: “Those figures are certainly worrying however they don’t take into account our rising student numbers.

“There is so much uncertainty about funding with the introduction of the national funding formula not being ratified – a lot of schools are sitting around asking what is happening.”

He added that the focus was on making sure the quality of education remained high, and providing a stable education for pupils.”

Ipswich Academy was also in line for a heavy hit, with an estimated £310,000 shortfall for the same time period.

Bill Holledge, acting chief executive officer of Paradigm Trust which runs the school, said: “We are confident that the funding for Ipswich Academy is secure and parents/carers and students should not be concerned by speculation around cuts.

“Being part of a multi-academy trust means that we are able to pool resources to gain efficiencies and invest in our schools to achieve better outcomes for students.”

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