Schools funding in crisis warns St Albans head


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A concerned St Albans secondary head has warned the government that school standards will be irrevocably damaged unless there is a change of policy on funding.

In the wake of the General Election, Alan Gray, head of Sandringham School and chair of the Herts School Forum, which is responsible for the formula by which county schools are funded, has raised his concerns with Education Secretary Nicky Morgan.

He believes that unless there is a change of policy on education funding, schools would face the most challenging financial position they had encountered for many years.

That would have a “detrimental impact on student progress, morale of the workforce and future recruitment to the profession”.

Mr Gray said that the Schools Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) was offering pay rises of a minimum of one per cent and up to two per cent for for outstanding teachers.

But without that increase being funded by central government, it presented a clear danger to the future of school finances.

He went on: “What I am seeing in Hertfordshire is school after school telling me they are unable to set a balanced budget for 2015-16 with budget deficit predictions of between £200k and £400k.

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“I know that at Sandringham, where our financial measures are very robust, we are currently predicting a £200k deficit between revenue funding and expenditure. This figure already includes significant efficiencies having been made.”

Turning to the financial outlook for 2016-17, Mr Gray said it was far worse with school predicting deficits in excess of £500k.

That would inevitably affect teacher recruitment at a time when there was “a major shortage of quality people entering the profession”.

He went on: “Clearly reduction in funding at the levels mentioned above will have a major impact on attracting the right people into this important public sector.”

Mr Gray said that like Ms Morgan, he was passionate about education and the role it had to play in shaping this country. But if, by reducing real-term funding, schools were “unable to deliver a truly outstanding education provision for every young person, then we have failed in our responsibilities and will have caused a legacy that will be very difficult to recover from”.

He questioned whether the ‘tipping point’ had been reached whereby further cuts would significantly impact on curriculum provision, standards and progress and the education outcomes of future young people.

Mr Gray said: “I believe we have,” and added: “We need to invest in the future of our country through the young people who will live in it.”