St Albans parents demand fairer funding for schools
PUBLISHED: 09:16 24 October 2017 | UPDATED: 09:16 24 October 2017
A delegation of St Albans parents will descend on Westminster today to demand fairer funding for schools.
The campaign group ‘Fair Funding for All Schools in St Albans’ was launched on Monday, October 16, and will now join other groups from around the country for a mass lobby on Parliament.
Local headteachers addressed parents at the St Albans meeting last week, raising concerns that school funding has failed to keep pace with rising school numbers and inflation, with per pupil funding falling since 2015. The group will meet St Albans MP Anne Main to discuss the concerns, calling on her to ask Chancellor Philip Hammond to use his budget on November 22 to allocate new funding for schools.
At the launch, chair of Hertfordshire Schools Forum and Sandringham School head Alan Gray and primary heads forum executive Amanda Godfrey shared the effects that funding cuts are having on primary and secondary schools in St Albans.
Alan Gray said: “We have an uphill struggle to convince the Government that there is an issue. MPs believe the rhetoric coming out of the Cabinet, particularly the Treasury, that enough money is being allocated to schools. This is not the case.
“We need the voices of parents to help us in convincing our MPs that there is a very real funding crisis.
“Overall there will be a further 4.6 per cent decrease in real terms between 2015 and 2019 if the present level of funding continues, which includes the additional £1.3bn promised.
“The Institute of Fiscal Studies latest report shows that a further £2bn a year to 2020 is required to maintain the current real terms funding level for schools.
“If we continue with this level of funding, my personal belief is that the UK will drop even further down the OECD International rankings for educational outcomes.”
Amanda Godfrey concurred, adding: “Many schools are spending such a high proportion of their funding on staffing and the very basic provision of putting a teacher in front of every class, that there is little or no money left for necessary repairs and maintenance or capital investment.
“In addition to limited capital investment there is a detrimental impact on schools’ capacity to provide additional support for some children. There is less funding for this specialist help resulting in fewer teaching assistants in classes to work with children with special needs.”
A survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showed that teachers’ salaries in England were worth 12 per cent less in 2015 than in 2005.
Mr Gray said: “This is significant and means teacher recruitment in Hertfordshire as it is across the country is extremely challenging.
“The erosion of salaries has meant that many of the best graduates now choose not to join teaching and if the situation continues, we will witness a further decline in standards across our schools.”
Schools in St Albans have been told that they will not lose more money as a result of the National Funding Formula, which allocates funding levels between schools, but the speakers criticised the formula as no new money has been added to the schools’ budget overall, and any addition is still below inflation and pay costs.
Mr Gray stated that “robbing Peter to pay Paul” is not the answer to the current funding crisis, which can only be solved by increasing funding to all schools.