FUNDING for primary and secondary schools in Stroud will reach “crisis point” unless the government invests extra money in the next few years, the head of the county’s teaching union has warned.
Gloucestershire NUT joint secretary, Sarah Murphy, said that unless extra money is put into education annual school budgets in the county would reduce by a total of £32 million in real terms by 2019.
Under current Government policies, Stroud’s five state secondary schools Marling, Stroud High, Archway, Maidenhill and Thomas Keble would see their budgets reduced by nearly £2 million.
Mrs Murphy warned that across the county this is already leading to redundancies, cuts to the amount of money spent on each pupil’s education and further pressure on teachers already struggling to cope with increased workloads.
“I fear we are heading into the perfect storm,” she said. “Already we are seeing schools in Gloucestershire being faced with restructuring and redundancies.
“The county has always been one of the worst funded in the England. And this new national funding formula is making things worse, not better for all of the secondary schools in our district
“Unless more money is invested, by the end of the decade schools in Stroud and around the county will be faced with making very tough decisions. We are nearing crisis point.”
Mrs Murphy said the reduction in real terms budgets for all schools were down to schools' costs rising faster than their income, due to inflation increases and extra pension and national insurance contributions.
In Stroud this means every primary and secondary is being hit by real time funding reductions. The majority of those worst affected are the five state secondary schools, which between them would see reduced annual budgets of nearly £2 million.
According to data compiled by the NUT, if no money is invested over the next few years, Archway School in Paganhill would see its funding reduce by £596,593 - a loss equivalent to the salary of 10 teachers.
High achieving Grammar school Marling in Cainscross would see its budget fall by £347,333 by 2019 – also equivalent to 10 teachers.
Neighbouring Stroud High School would see its own budget reduce by £336,010, equal to a funding loss of £532 per pupil.
Maidenhill in Stonehouse would see its budget drop by £290,647, meaning its 449 pupils would each receive £582 less funding.
Thomas Keble School in Eastcombe would have its budget fall by £428,925, money equivalent to the salary of 11 of its teaching staff.
Despite seeing a ‘per pupil’ increase in the proposed new funding formula, most primary schools will see a real terms cut over the next few years due to the increased contributions that schools have to make back to the treasury.
Minchinhampton Primary Academy would see budgets cut by £148,381 by 2019, a loss equivalent to four teachers.
Stroud Valley Community Primary School would see it annual funding drop by £121,630, while Foxmoor Primary School in Ebley would see a reduction of £115,637.
Lakefield CofE Primary School in Frampton on Severn would lose £100,905, and Rodborough Community Primary School’s budgets would fall by £81,028.
“These reductions in funding will mean the curriculum at some schools will be restricted,” added Mrs Murphy.
“Already we are seeing subjects like drama, design and technology and even computer science being cut in some secondary schools in Gloucestershire.
“On top of that school we are seeing increased class sizes. Many A-level classes are increasing in size by as much as 25 per cent, and GCSE classes by around 20 per cent.
“All of this comes on top of increased workload for teachers. The latest DFE survey found that teachers in the UK are now working on average 54 hours per week.
“That has meant that 73 per cent of schools leaders are experiencing difficulties in recruiting more staff, and nearly a third of those who entered the teaching profession in 2010 had left by 2016.
“These are shocking figures and they go some way to showing how under pressure teachers are already. Schools in Stroud and across the county need more funding.”
She continued: “I am extremely pleased that following a recent meeting with Neil Carmichael MP he recognised the need for more funding in education not just a reshuffling of existing budgets.
“Traditionally schools have not complained about their funding they have just got on and coped. It is indicative of the crisis and I don’t use that word glibly that head teaching unions and head teachers in the county are now very publicly expressing their concerns.
“I know that as a society we have difficult decisions to make over how our taxes are spent but the education of our children is the education of those that will lead us into the future.”
Mr Carmichael, who is chair of the Education Select Committee, stressed the Government was still in a consultation period about the National Finding Formula and would be “carefully considering” all suggestions.
“One of those will be my own suggestion to introduce a minimum funding floor amount into the new system to make sure no school is left behind,” he said. “I think that’s very important.
“No school should be able to fall beneath that level. We would also hope that in the future we would then be able to raise that floor when appropriate.”
Stuart Wilson, head teacher of Marling, said: “I am extremely disappointed that the proposed National Funding Formula does very little to address the inequalities in funding across the country and I am delighted that so many parents, along with others in the area, have expressed their concerns via their MPs.
“I only hope that the Department for Education takes note of the very real issues facing schools and creates a genuinely fair formula that sees an increase in baseline per-pupil funding for Gloucestershire students.”
Stroud High head Mark McShane added: “The on-going funding pressure facing secondary schools in Stroud will be further exacerbated by the proposed funding formula. It is grossly unfair that a National Funding Formula which claims to resolve historic inequalities in school funding will see Stroud High School lose a further 2.5 per cent in per pupil funding.
“We have urged parents to contact their local MP and outline their concerns. We have met with Neil Carmichael, who has been supportive of our concerns and prepared case study work for the Secretary of State for Education.
“The formula has a number of significant flaws, most notably that by capping the amount a highly funded school can be reduced to just three per cent, means the baseline for per pupil funding is simply not high enough. It is nonsensical that the girls of Stroud High School face a cut to their per pupil funding on a par with students from the highest funded authorities in the country. It is simply not right.”
Figures used in this article were based on the average amount that would be lost for every pupil in Gloucestershire as a result of the reduced budget. There are 75,978 pupils in Gloucestershire according to the school census. The equivalent number of teachers that would be lost is based on the average teacher's salary of £37,250.
These include plans to reallocate school budgets according to a new national funding formula, and not increasing funding per pupil in line with inflation. Data from the Department of Education and www.schoolcuts.org.uk/