CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Dear parents: Forty headteachers issue schools funding squeeze warning

Schools appeal for parents to support campaign for more investment

06 June, 2019 — By Helen Chapman

PRIMARY school headteachers across the borough united this week by co-signing a letter sent home to parents about the “struggle” they are facing due to a funding squeeze.

The letter, signed by 40 headteachers, was sent out on Monday as a part of an appeal to encourage parents and carers to join a campaign for more investment.

It said: “We are not asking you for donations, although our PTAs (Parents and Teacher Associations) are vital in helping us financially. We are simply asking, as we continue to struggle on, for your understanding, patience and support.”

The New Journal reported earlier this year how schools have made 78 redundancies in the past year to cover costs.

The government insists it is pumping more money into schools, but the Institute for Fiscal Studies said last year that, between 2009-10 and 2017-18, school spending per pupil in England fell by about 8 per cent.

“Our staff teams are our most important resource, and paying them is, quite rightly, the largest cost,” the letter from the headteachers said.  “Many of us have had to stop recruiting new staff, and in some cases schools have had to make staff redundant simply to balance our budgets.”

It added: “The situation does not look like it’s going to get any better. All our staff and governors will continue to do everything we can to ensure that children do not suffer as a result of the financial situation.”

Gerald Clark, from the Camden National Education Union, said: “Whilst our schools have still managed to perform well during this time, many schools have had to make redundancies – most have been unable to replace staff who leave. This has meant that the workload for staff remaining is also at an all-time high and some schools will struggle to even pay staff the below-inflation pay increases set to be recommended by the School Teachers’ Review Body this year unless the government funds the pay increase.”

Camden’s education chief, Councillor Angela Mason, said: “I endorse the letter from headteachers and call on the government to make the investment now in our children’s education.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “This year, under the national funding formula, schools in Camden will attract £6,251 per pupil on average – well above the national average of £4,689. While there is more money going into our schools than ever before, we know schools face budgeting challenges, which is why we have introduced a wide range of support to help schools reduce costs and get the best value from their resources – from a free-to-use vacancy service to cut the costs of recruiting teachers, to advisers who are providing expert help and support to individual schools that need it.”

Their statement added: “The Secretary of State has made 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.”

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