LIBERAL DEMOCRATS have called for the county’s new Children & Young People’s boss to seek 100% certainty over how much cash schools will be getting in the next year.
At a meeting of the County Council’s Cabinet on Monday a commitment was made to write to the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening MP, to clarify the Government’s school funding plans for Gloucestershire.
Proposals to introduce a national funding formula for schools first came under attack by the Liberal Democrats at the end of January this year as a total of 103 primary and secondary schools were set to lose nearly £1million worth of funding across the county.
And in early February a joint letter was sent by both the Liberal Democrat Leader on Gloucestershire County Council, Cllr. Paul Hodgkinson and Liberal Democrat Leader on Cotswold District Council, Cllr. Joe Harris asking the Education Secretary to listen to the concerns of head teachers. It also asked her to revise the national funding formula proposals for schools that would see nearly ten thousand schools nationally losing out including many in Gloucestershire.
Now, with schools planning their autumn budgets, there are concerns that desperate measures are being undertaken by head teachers in an attempt to cover shortfalls in funding.
Cllr. Joe Harris (LD: Cirencester Park), the Liberal Democrat’ spokesperson for Children and Young People, made Monday’s request to the new Council Cabinet Member for Children:
“It is about time we know what is happening with the funding of our schools. We are hearing of head teachers at the end of their tether in an attempt to find ways to save money as budgets are squeezed.
“The national media has only this month pointed to lunch breaks being cut short, minority subjects being dropped and parents being asked to donate in order to plug the cap.
“We all recognise the importance of education and yet there is a total unfairness in the way in which our schools are being funded. There is real concern over the huge negative impact that the proposed national funding formula will have on many schools across Gloucestershire and nationally.
“There are big questions over what school funding will look like in the future, but let’s not be under any illusion that a funding crisis is happening in our schools right now.
“I’m pleased I got a commitment for the Council to get total clarity from the Government as to exactly how much money our schools will be getting."
In an analysis of the Conservative General Election manifesto, the Institute of Fiscal Studies found school funding in England would fall nearly 3% by 2021 even with a promised extra £1bn a year, adjusting for inflation and a rise in student numbers.