St Albans headteachers lobby politicians over education funding

Head teachers from St Albans district met at Westminster to lobby on behalf of schools throughoutHer

Head teachers from St Albans district met at Westminster to lobby on behalf of schools throughoutHerts - Credit: Photo supplied

Concerns about an education funding crisis unfolding throughout local schools have been aired at Westminster.

In an unusual step, a delegation of 30 secondary school head teachers representing all 76 maintained secondary schools and academies across the county descended upon the Houses of Parliament recently to lobby local MPs.

Among them were the heads of Verulam, Sandringham and Beaumont schools.

They lobbied politicians for additional money as the government has failed to cover substantial increases in planned national insurance and pension contributions.

This has resulted in redundancies at some schools, while others face predicted deficits - £200k in some cases - over the next academic year.

School bosses, whose campaign for fair and sufficient funding is being supported by the Herts Advertiser, spoke of their frustration that the problem had not been officially recognised by the Department for Education, and is not widely understood by the public.

Nick Binder, chair of the Herts Association of Secondary School Headteachers, said school leaders warned MPs they faced a difficult time ahead, with plans to enforce redundancies and make cuts to the curriculum.

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Just last month Beaumont School asked parents for help in sourcing additional income streams because of a considerable gap between funding and expenditure.

Local politicians were warned too that while governors had prudently accumulated reserves over the years, these were being rapidly depleted to meet in-year funding deficits.

Head teachers said they are unable to avoid making cuts which would reduce the quality of education they provided.

Schools in this district, and elsewhere in the county, have an excellent reputation and include some of the most successful institutions in the country.

Nick said: “These funding cuts will, of course, impact on the learning of children in every constituency in Herts, so MPs expressed their concern at the picture being described by the head teachers.”

Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, said: “The head teachers made it clear that they face very real challenges in coping with increases in national insurance costs, teachers’ pay and pensions.

“I and fellow Herts MPs will be taking up these issues with the Secretary of State.”

St Albans MP Anne Main added: “I’ve been arguing that the funding formula isn’t always fair for Herts. When we receive £4,384 per pupil in Herts while London and the rest of England receive £5,394 and £4,612 respectively, excluding the pupil premium, it’s reasonable to suggest that local schools need to be well funded. It’s important our schools don’t fall between the gaps.

“We need a fair deal for our area to maintain the excellent standards in a sustainable fashion.”

Anne has written to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and the chair of the education select committee.

Sandringham head teacher Alan Gray said the government risked creating a legacy of under-funding schools which would affect children’s future education.