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MP and headteachers call on Government to address schools' "dire financial situation"

MP and headteachers call on Government to address schools' "dire financial situation"

Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson has joined with headteachers at schools from across the constituency to call on the Government to “think again” on cuts of £2.6m.

Several headteachers said their schools were now facing such a dire financial situation that redundancies for members of teaching staff were inevitable.

A new funding formula for schools was introduced last year which purported to make funding fairer across the country. But every school in Sefton Central will suffer a real-terms cut to its budget by 2020 compared to 2015.

Mr Esterson said: “The Conservative Government must have a rethink and stop these damaging cuts to education budgets.

“No matter how the Government spins the figures, every school in my constituency will see its budget cut even though pupil numbers are increasing.

“I am calling for an end to education cuts and fairer funding for all schools.”

The Government’s cuts to education funding have seen £2.8 billion cut from school budgets across the country since 2015. Nine out of ten schools nationwide will see a cut to funding from 2015 to 2020, including every school in Sefton Central. Crosby’s Chesterfield High is due to lose £250,000, Maghull’s Deyes High £196,000 and Formby High £175,000.

Staff numbers in England’s secondary schools have fallen by 15,000 between 2014/15 and 2016/17 despite there being 4,500 more pupils to teach. This equates to an average loss of 5.5 staff members in each school.

There have also been deep cuts to sixth form funding of more than 17 per cent per pupil since 2010.

Headteachers told the MP Mr Esterson how bad the funding situation at their schools had become, and said there had also been many additional costs falling on schools to meet.

Mark McQueen of Ursuline Catholic Primary School in Crosby, which will lose £58,000, said: “I am fed up of hearing the Prime Minister tell us there is more money than ever in education. If that were the case, jobs wouldn’t be under threat. We are being penalised because of additional unfunded staffing costs, and due to the cost of additional services that were once provided by the local authority. We are making staff redundant because of this and it is damaging to our children's education.”

Danny MacAreavy, headteacher at St John Bosco Catholic Primary School in Maghull, which will lose £24,000, said: “There is not more money in education. My budget has fallen by £10,000 since 2008 and our hard working teachers have had no pay increase for almost a decade.

“It is becoming tiresome for the Government to continue to say budgets are rising when parents of all our children are seeing school’s offers declining. Parents are taxpayers as well and their children deserve better.”

St Luke’s Primary School in Formby is set to lose £43,000 by 2020. Headteacher Sharon Cowey said: “The government's insistence that there is more money than ever before in the education system is a nonsense. With no funding increase since 2010, but a rising cost of utilities, staff pay and superannuation increases, the apprenticeship levy and other services that used to be provided by the council, schools across the borough are going to be looking at having to make huge cuts.”

Kathy Monaghan of St Jerome’s Catholic Primary School in Formby, set to lose £25,000, added: "I became a headteacher in 2009 and have watched the school budget being reduced year on year since 2010. Schools are being expected to deliver extended services and the highest quality of education whilst the services they used to rely on are now either gone or severely eroded resulting in additional costs to school budgets.

“All school staff are doing more with less and there have been no pay increases for several years. It becomes increasingly difficult to provide our children with everything they should have as each financial year passes with no new funding and increased costs. Schools across Sefton are having to make difficult choices about how to make savings without impacting on the quality of the service they provide to children and families."

Becky Woods, head at St Nicholas Primary School in Crosby, facing cuts of £45,000, said: "We understand that the government has not officially made cuts to the overall education budget. Time and time again, when concerns are raised about lack of funding in schools, the response from ministers is that education funding is at an all-time high. Schools, however, have had to find money for increases to national insurance and pension contributions, for massive increases in utility costs and for services that used to be provided free of charge to schools by funding given directly to the LA, to name but a few; some schools also face having to pay the apprenticeship levy, all with no extra funding. The unfunded pay increases are now going to be added to that list. Schools have now been given indicative budgets for the next two years and it is clear from these figures that the vast majority of Sefton schools will not be able to maintain current levels of staffing or resources."

Dominic MacKenzie of Formby High School said: “Whilst we have managed well to ensure funding cuts have not been detrimental to the education students receive at Formby High School, highly skilled and dedicated teachers and support staff, and the students in their care, deserve better. Improved funding to maintain buildings, purchase basic learning resources such as text books and provide a reasonable pay rise to all who work in schools is a must and the government need to acknowledge this fact and take the necessary action."

Mr Esterson added: “The Government says they want to even out the differences in education but all they are doing is taking teachers and teaching assistants out of our classrooms.

“Children and young people only get one chance at school and college. As a country we should be investing in this and future generations of young people. The Government must address the funding crisis urgently.”

PIC shows: Bill at Ursuline Catholic Primary School in Crosby with headteacher Mark McQueen, Sian Jones Y6 teacher (with glasses) and Chris chai assistant headteacher.

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