Parents asked to fund school essentials due to budget cuts, says union
Parents are being asked to make voluntary contributions to pay for school essentials following cuts to per pupil funding across Suffolk and Essex, according to a teaching union.
Figures published through the School Cuts website, backed by a coalition of teaching unions, analysing per pupil funding in real terms from 2015 to 2020, claim Suffolk schools have lost out on £40.3million in funding, while Essex has lost out on £134.4 million.
This works out as £178 per pupil in Suffolk and £257 per pupil in Essex since 2015.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, and former headteacher at King Edward VI school in Bury St Edmunds, said: “Schools across the country have had to make severe cuts and there are more on the way as reserves are drained and deficits increase.
“The reality of budget cuts is that schools have to operate with reduced staffing and this impacts on educational provision, such as less additional support for children and fewer curriculum choices.
“Schools are in the invidious position of having to decide on the least-worst option of where to make cuts or they will become insolvent.”
According to the School Cuts website, at least five Ipswich primary schools are set to lose between £114,000 and £167,000 – a loss per pupil of between £350 and £540.
Out of 281 schools in Suffolk, 236 face cuts.
In Essex. 470 out of 514 schools have seen a loss in funding, with schools in the Colchester area seeing cuts of up to £655 per pupil.
Graham White, from Suffolk NEU, said: “The government proclaims they are spending more on education than ever before. While this is factually correct it takes no account of the increase in pupil numbers or inflationary costs. More and more parents are being asked to make voluntary contributions.”
Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of school leaders’ union, NAHT, said: “School budgets are at absolute breaking point. School leaders have made all the obvious savings.
“Now, class sizes are rising and the range of subjects schools can offer is shrinking as they desperately try to balance the books. Everyone agrees that the school funding crisis can only be solved by new money from the Treasury.”
However, the figures on the School Cuts website, which are partly derived from using the Office for Budget Responsibility’s estimate for inflation, last month faced criticism from Braintree MP James Cleverly, who said the methodology was “skewed towards generating ‘cuts’”.
A spokesman for the Department for Education, said the secretary of state would be backing headteachers as the next spending review approaches.
He said: “Since 2017, we have given every local authority more money for every pupil in every school, while allocating the biggest increases to the most underfunded.
“Schools in Suffolk will receive an increase of 4.7% per pupil by 2019-20, compared to 2017-18 funding levels, which is well above the national average increase of 3.2%.
“This amounts to an extra £26.1 million, when rising pupil numbers are taken into account.
“The secretary of state has made it clear that as we approach the next spending review, he will back headteachers to have the resources they need to deliver a world class education in the years ahead.”