Headteachers are demanding more cash for secondary schools from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, and say urgent reform of their funding formula is needed.
A letter that has been endorsed by 5,000 headteachers from schools in England not only demands more money but also warns of soaring class sizes and fears over deep cuts to their resources.
There are also pleas to reform the funding formula to generate more cash because, the headteachers warn, they are stripping away their provision to leave just the basic curriculum activities for their pupils.
The letter warns: “The most disadvantaged and vulnerable students are being unfairly penalised by a system that leaves them being short-changed. There is one solution: more money is needed.”
March attended by heads from secondary schools
The headteachers are set to hand over their letter to Downing Street with a march attended by heads from secondary schools around England.
The budget will be held on 22 November when schools will hear how much money they will get to spend next year.
One of the headteachers that signed the letter told a national newspaper: “We have, at my school, had to narrow the curriculum and we’ve had to make class sizes larger for some subjects. We are pushing the system to the limit.”
She added that headteachers are upset because they’ve already made substantial cuts to their budgets and further cuts will see a drop in teacher numbers and lead to larger class sizes.
Also, they warn that with cuts to the budgets for mental health and social care services, schools are being left to pick up work done by other services.
Promise to provide £1.3 billion in extra education funding
Despite a promise by the government to provide £1.3 billion in extra education funding, the headteachers have calculated that in real terms, their new funding formula will see a budget reduction of £1.7 billion by 2020. The figures have been confirmed by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
The letter also warns the government that there are huge disparities between the funding of schools in England with some of the same size receiving around 60% less cash.
Also, headteachers are warning that schools are increasingly unable to find specialist teachers and will need to spend larger amounts to put a teacher in a class. They warn that a ‘finder’s fee’, on average, for just one teacher can be £6,000.
‘Every school will see an increase in funding’
The Minister for School Standards, Nick Gibb, said: “There are no funding cuts and every school will see an increase in funding from 2018 through the formula. Secondary schools will receive at least £4,800 by 2019-20 per pupil and schools funding overall is protected in real terms at a national level over the next two years.”
Labour’s shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said: “The government must start listening to concerned parents and schools who face real consequences. The new funding formula will do nothing to reverse budget cuts and every penny found comes from reducing other education provision, so it isn’t funded and isn’t fair.”