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School leaders gather in Manchester to fight funding crisis in the North West

[T]oday (Friday 20 April) school leaders, teachers and governors from all across the North West gather in Manchester for the North West Education Summit 2018. Joined by MPs and parents, delegates will discuss the impact real-terms cuts to school funding is having on schools in the North West.

Schools in the North West are being hit hard by government underfunding. The 23 local authorities in the region are facing a collective loss of funding of £192,812,543 by 2020.

A recent national survey by NAHT shows that 65% of school leaders ‘strongly agree’ that cut backs have already had a negative impact on the performance of their school. And only 8% of school leaders said that they did not foresee a year where they would have an untenable deficit.

The North West Education Summit 2018 takes place on Friday 20 April, 1-3pm, the Mechanics’ Conference Centre in Manchester. Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, and Lucy Powell, MP for Manchester Central, will address the summit.

Paul Whiteman commented: “Government funding is not keeping pace with inflationary pressures resulting in real terms funding cuts. Schools are falling into debt. There is a real concern that this will soon have a negative impact on children and education. Class sizes have risen, and schools have already had to cut teaching staff, reduce extra support for children, and even shorten the school week.”

Samantha Offord, head teacher of Birchfields Primary School in Manchester, said: “I’ve been a head teacher for 17 years. I’ve always had to be careful and manage my budget for the benefit of the children. But over the last few years we have not seen any increase in our budgets, not even in line with inflation.

“We made economies but in 2014 we could see our budget would fall off a cliff unless we did something drastic. We let 9 TAs go and made 5 teachers redundant. We thought that surely that would be enough but in 2017 we had to make 13 lunchtime staff redundant and reduce the hours for the others.

“There’s been a lot of talk recently of excessive workloads, and yes, every member of staff at my school is working harder as they take on the workload of those we’ve had to let go. When our budgets are cut by 10% or more with the new funding formula I quite simply do not know where I can cut that won’t have a life-changing negative impact on a generation of children.”

Clem Coady, Headteacher of Stoneraise School in Carlisle, said: “Significant cuts to school funding is having a detrimental impact to our pupils’ learning. Cuts to both support staff and teaching staff hours are now the only way for schools to make ends meet. The impact of these cuts reduces the effectiveness and quality of education for this generation of children. Education should never be seen as a burden on the treasury, but an investment in our future.

“In Cumbria, the cuts are £10.9m, with 234 schools out of 272 schools facing real term cuts to their funding. This is a staggering amount of money, too large for me to comprehend, but equal to £197 less for each pupil in Cumbria. School leaders across our county have managed these cuts very effectively so far, by reducing all aspects of school expenditure possible. Unfortunately this has not been enough, with a significant proportion of our schools now increasing class sizes, reducing support for pupils, and limiting the curriculum on offer, as they have no other options available.

“In a County as unique as Cumbria, we have many small schools. These cuts are real, and they are threatening the financial viability of some schools moving forward. We need to challenge these cuts, and demand the treasury fund our schools properly to maintain the high quality and standards of education for our Cumbrian children.”

The impact of the funding crisis on individual schools can be looked up on the School Cuts website.

234 of 272 schools in Cumbria will face cuts. The area will see a £10.9million loss by 2020 – £197 per pupil. The pupil to classroom teacher ratio in Cumbria is above average.

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