‘Vital campaign’ against cuts to schools funding
The ‘damaging’ funding cuts facing schools in west Suffolk were highlighted in Bury St Edmunds on Saturday.
A street stall in the town centre was part of events across Suffolk organised by the National Education Union (NEU) and nationally by the School Cuts Coalition.
In Bury, it is estimated that one primary school will lose £44,263 a year in its 2020 funding compared to 2015, while one secondary is losing £145,707 in 2020 compared to 2015. This equates to a cut of £207 per pupil. Other secondary schools in Bury are typically losing more than £100 per pupil.
Graham White, NEU national executive member, said: “We want a world-class education system for all our pupils and that needs to be funded properly by government. Education is a right and we should not have to act like a charity asking for money.”
The Bury event was attended by Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders and former headteacher of the town’s King Edward VI School.
He said: “Saturday was a fantastic opportunity to meet members of the public and to explain how real-term spending cuts are damaging education.
“Many people I met were surprised at just how bad the situation is becoming.
“I was pleased to join colleagues in the Suffolk sunshine on market day, representing 19,000 school and college leaders in this vital campaign on behalf of the nation’s children.”
The stall gave the public and those with an interest in the education system the chance to find out how funding cuts are affecting schools.
Shelagh Kavanagh, supply teacher and Bury event organiser, said: “Every class should be taught by a qualified teacher. Every child deserves to be taught by a subject specialist.
“These funding cuts are having a detrimental impact on schools and pupils’ education. There is an increasing number of schools which ‘cannot afford’ supply teachers and use teaching assistants or other non-qualified staff to teach or watch the class. Children deserve better.
“It is not the fault of schools they are having to do this – not enough money means send children home because the teacher is off or provide a person to watch the children.”
Nationally, school funding has been cut in real terms by £2.8 billion since 2015. In many schools, this means reduced staffing levels, larger class sizes, curriculum cuts and reduced resources, activities, school trips and maintenance.
Schools Cuts website (www.schoolcuts.org.uk) includes a search facility for schools and provides funding cuts estimates.
For example, it estimates Abbots Green Primary School, in Bury, is losing £169,546 between 2015 and 2020, equating to £429 per pupil.
Margaret Bulaitis, assistant secretary of Suffolk NEU, said: “It is an absolute scandal that schools are having to make cuts.
“These funding cuts are not required and will not help schools or pupils. The Government can find the money when it wants to, but seems reluctant to ensure no school loses real-term funding per pupil.”