Headteachers warn handout is not enough

HEADTEACHERS in Essex have warned that an extra £5 per child from the Government is not enough to stop schools heading for financial crisis.Over the next three years Essex County Council is anticipating a £64 million cut in the education budget due to a change in the formula the Government uses to give money to local authorities, combined with the axing of standards fund grants for specific targets.

HEADTEACHERS in Essex have warned that an extra £5 per child from the Government is not enough to stop schools heading for financial crisis.

Over the next three years Essex County Council is anticipating a £64 million cut in the education budget due to a change in the formula the Government uses to give money to local authorities, combined with the axing of standards fund grants for specific targets.

The Government promised each school would get a 3.2% increase in spending for each pupil, but last week when headteachers got their budgets they complained they were forced to make cuts as inflationary pressures had effectively decreased their funds.

In response to their complaints, the Government has come up with an extra £1.162 million for Essex schools, in a bid to guarantee the promised 3.2% increase, which equates to an extra £5 per pupil on average.


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Howard Williamson, chairman of the north east section of the Essex Primary Heads Assocation, said: "Any extra money has to be welcomed because the current settlement is leaving many schools in dire trouble. At the moment we think education maybe heading into crisis in Essex."

"The general feeling is if we are stuck with this for another year schools will not be able to operate properly."

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Mr Williamson said his school, Cann Hall Primary in Clacton, is facing many cuts. including losing four teaching assistants by not renewing their contracts in September; a cut to the books and equipment budget of £38,000; scrapping three classes which will lead to an increase in junior class sizes to an average of 35 pupils; spending the entire supply teacher budget on staff salaries; and abandoning swimming lessons.

He said: "Our ability to deliver improvement and development is completely finished off by this budget for us."

Mr Williamson is carrying out a survey among primary school headteachers about the budget. He will be presenting his findings to Essex County Council. He is hoping heads will take a unified stand and say they cannot continue to take cuts any longer.

Nick Rudman, headteacher of Eight Ash Green and Aldham Church of England primary school, near Colchester, said the extra money for his school from the Government would be about £755.

He said he has been forced to reduce teaching assistants' hours by 20 per week – the equivalent of one part-time job and to cut the amount of spending on foundation subjects such as history and science.

"We have used every single penny we can and we were still £40,000 short. If things continue at this pace there are lots of schools, including us, who are going to be seriously considering teacher redundancies this time next year."

Iris Pummell, Essex County Council cabinet member for education, said when she announced the schools budgets she would rather have given schools more money but the council has been hit by cuts from the Government.

Schools Standards Minister David Miliband said: "It is only right that the Government listens to sensible representations about any major new system.

"We recognise that in some authorities the combination of a low increase in education formula spending, coupled with reductions in grant through the standards funds may result in lower than expected budgets for schools."

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