North East schools forced to ask parents to help fill funding blackhole

The Head Teachers of two schools in the region have written to parents with a plea for donations, as both schools face losing hundreds of thousands of pounds in the next few years.

Dozens of school leaders in Darlington also reached out to parents, urging them to lobby the Government over the funding crisis by writing to the Education Secretary and the Schools Minister.

New research conducted by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) says the proposed national funding formula could leave 1,000 schools across the country facing additional cuts of 7% beyond 2019-20. The National Audit Office forecast a £3bn shortfall in school budgets in the next couple of years.

Parents of children attending Queen Elizabeth High School in Hexham and Hexham Middle school were told the quality of provision is at “genuine risk”, as the school leaders of both institutions expressed their worry at the impact the funding cuts will have on pupils.

Two teaching unions warned that Queen Elizabeth High School could lose £521,172 by 2019, while Hexham Middle School would see a dent of £176,258 in its budget over the next two years.

The Chronicle reported that one of the letters reads:

We do not undertake this step lightly. However, the reduction in funding over the next few years in the face of rising costs puts at genuine risk the quality of provision to which we have become accustomed at both our schools.

We appreciate that some families are hard pressed and will not be able to make a financial contribution, which is absolutely fine.

However, for those who are able – be it parents of existing students, former students or indeed members of the wider community – it will help enormously.

According to the paper, parents are being asked to donate voluntarily by a single payment or setting up a regular standing order.

While not wanting to “cause panic”, the letters from Darlington Heads expressed worries at the “lack of regard for the next generation”.

This comes after Head Teachers representing around 3,000 schools in England wrote to their local MPs and ministers calling for a rethink of school funding plans.

Around 4,000 school governors recently surveyed by the BBC called the prospects for schools under the proposed arrangements as “diabolical”, “devastating” and “catastrophic”, with some respondents describing their “desperate” attempts at fundraising to fill gaps.

Whilst SCHOOLS NorthEast welcomed the decision to create a new National Funding Formula, we have been campaigning against certain aspects of the proposed plans, particularly the Area Cost Adjustment which will give additional money to schools in more expensive areas than the NE.

The deadline for responses to the Government’s second stage of the National Funding Formula consultation was yesterday. SCHOOLS NorthEast responded on behalf of Head Teachers in our region – you can read our views here.

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