Suffolk's schools in 'funding crisis'

STUDENTS at schools across Suffolk are being made to pay for their own books and materials because of a “serious funding crisis”, it was claimed last night.

Laurence Cawley

STUDENTS at schools across Suffolk are being made to pay for their own books and materials because of a “serious funding crisis”, it was claimed last night.

A lack of sixth form investment from the Government sponsored Learning and Skills Council (LSC) - which funds post-GCSE education - is forcing many schools to charge pupils for resources, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said.

The claim was made after it emerged the King Edward VI in Bury St Edmunds - one of the country's leading state schools - has had to introduce charging for text books.

In a newsletter sent out to parents, head teacher Geoff Barton warned that students would have to pay for their own core textbooks in some subjects.

Explaining why charging had been introduced Mr Barton said his funding had been cut despite having to offer new courses.

Most Read

Last night Graham White, branch secretary for the NUT in Suffolk, warned this was not an isolated case and that a serious shortage of sixth-form investment was forcing other schools to charge pupils for books and, in the case of vocational courses, materials.

“We are really concerned,” he said. “This is becoming more and more common within post-16 education at a number of schools.

“There is a serious funding crisis. It is not just textbooks that students are starting to have to pay for themselves. In some vocational courses, such as design and technology, students are having to pay for their own materials. We fear students are being excluded from some subjects because of the costs.”

Emrys Green, Bury St Edmunds member of Suffolk Youth Parliament, claimed the situation could harm the education of poorer students. “That's really going to damage the education experience,” he said.

The LSC last night confirmed it had cut King Edward VI School's funding, but defended the decision saying the cash paid was based on the types of courses being offered this year.

Judith Mobbs, area director for the LSC in Suffolk, said: “The LSC has provided King Edward School Sixth Form a total of £1.45million this year.

“This money will fund 331 student places which was the total number of students enrolled at the college last year and the realistic number of places we believed the college could provide for this year.

“The funding is just over £3,000 less than last year and this is because of the type of courses the college is offering, some of which require less funding than others.

“LSC funding for King Edward School Sixth Form equates to £4,380 per student, which is comparable with other institutions across Suffolk, and should be sufficient funds for the college to meet the requirements of the courses.

“In addition to this core funding, the LSC is investing significant money in 14-16 provision at King Edward School to provide places for Young Apprenticeships and more education opportunities for young people.”

A spokesman for the LSC said last night there had been no cutbacks in budgets for Suffolk in general and he was not aware of any complaints from schools claiming they did not have enough money.

He added that students could apply for an educational maintenance allowance which gave them a grant of £30 a week to help with the costs of their courses.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter