Heads’ anger at Government’s funding “snub”

More than 7,000 Heads have written a joint letter to 3.5 million families expressing concerns about worsening budget shortages.

This comes in the same week that a petition by Gateshead Head Teachers, which has already gathered more than 107,000 signatures, forced a debate on school funding in the House of Commons.

The letter being sent to millions of families is the latest in a series of campaigns organised to make the Government understand the depth of feeling over school funding shortages.

Organisers of the WorthLess campaign, started by West Sussex Head Jules White, say requests to talk to Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds have been turned down because his time is too “pressurised”. But a Department for Education spokesperson said it was “fundamentally untrue” to suggest funding was not a priority for him.

The letter warns of the impact of cash shortages and quotes a letter to head teachers rejecting a request to meet Education Secretary Damian Hinds or Schools Minister Nick Gibb.

The letter, written by an official at the DfE, says: “I hope you will understand that their time is heavily pressurised and their diaries need to be prioritised according to ministerial, parliamentary and constituency business”.

The group says this was “ill judged” and wrote again to ministers in January to raise the seriousness of their concerns about school budgets. They say they have yet to receive a response.

This comes in the same week that an e-petition on school funding launched by the Gateshead Head Teacher Association was debated by MPs, after attracting over 100,000 signatures. The campaign was spearheaded by St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School Head Teacher Andrew Ramanandi. The full debate is available to read in Hansard.

Opening the debate Liz Twist, MP for Blaydon, pointed out that:

  • 91% of schools across England have experienced real-terms cuts in per-pupil funding since 2015.
  • Per-pupil funding fell by 8% from 2009/10 to 2017/18, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb  repeated claims of record education spending levels and rising school standards, despite calls from across the political spectrum for additional investment. Liz Twist MP argued the Minister was “saying to headteachers such as Mr Ramanandi and others that their experience is not valid”.

Writing in this week’s Talking Heads column, Mr Ramanandi said:

“The Head Teachers of Gateshead would like to thank everyone who has provided support for this campaign.  The collective force of our school communities has raised the issue of school funding loudly and robustly so that Government will find it difficult to ignore.

We will continue working with other agencies, unions and departments to drive forward our campaign to attempt to get the funding required for the best education possible for all our children.”

Read Andy’s full comments in the Talking Heads section of today’s newsletter.

 

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