A local headteacher has joined Tracy Brabin MP to call for an end to cuts that are ‘putting children’s futures at risk’ after it was revealed that schools in Batley and Spen will have lost almost £4.5 million in real terms funding by 2020.
The startling figure, taken from the latest ’School Cuts’ data analysed and released by a joint campaign of trade unions and trade bodies, shows that by 2020 the constituency’s 45 state funded schools will be £4.36m worse off in real terms in 2020 than in 2015.
The picture is bleak across Kirklees where an astonishing £6.2m will have been cut from school budgets by 2020.
And across England and Wales a staggering £2.8 billion has been slashed from real-terms schools’ budgets since 2015 – a sum that equates to £45.4k for primary schools and £185.2k for secondary schools.
Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin, who forms part of Labour’s Shadow Education Team, said: “Here in Batley and Spen we have some fantastic schools who are working incredibly hard to deliver against this backdrop of cuts – but there is only so much they can take.
“These cuts are putting unbelievable pressure on teachers, headteachers and support staff and putting our children’s futures at risk.
“Increased funding for schools is desperately needed to relieve this pressure and to safeguard our children’s education.
“Shrinking budgets, increasing costs and demands, reduced staffing and a flawed funding formula are leading us towards a crisis in our schools – and this Government is sleepwalking straight into it.
“It is time for the Government to listen to the dire warnings, face facts and properly fund one of the most important parts of our society.”
These cuts to core school budgets, which represents 75% of school funding, is on top of cuts to all other areas of the education budget including early years, sixth form, pupil premium and high needs.
Samantha Vickers, the headteacher at Upper Batley High School, says cuts are making it “practically impossible” to offer the levels of quality that have been offered in the past.
Upper Batley is losing approximately £402,000 each year in real terms – but remain ‘absolutely committed to providing the very best academic standards and highest level of pastoral care for all’.
This loss of funding, together with time-consuming changes in education such as new assessments and grading criteria, has led to fewer teachers and support staff and an ever-increasing workload for the ones who remain.
Samantha Vickers said: “We believe in every child achieving their best and we are passionate about tackling the poverty of aspiration in our area.
“A successful education opens doors for young people, raises their aspirations and well educated young people go on to have better futures which helps the economic development of the area. Every child, every school, same opportunities.
“Our staff team have worked tremendously hard in ensuring that despite a loss of funding there will be no loss of provision for our children.
“We refuse to cut our curriculum offer because subjects like art, music, design technology etc. offer valuable skills for learners but also enriching learning experiences that inspire, motivate and engage young people.
“Staff have donated hours of their time, for free, in running after school classes, clubs, trips, visits, charity projects and other enrichment activities. Staff have even funded breakfast clubs and purchased uniform and equipment for our most vulnerable learners from their own pockets.
“One Head of Department purchased key resources for his GCSE group himself. This should not be the case.
“Class sizes have increased and they cannot increase any further. We must ensure that action is taken to fund schools effectively and efficiently so that every child receives the very best education.
“An effective national funding formula is key to this and money put into the right areas of education – not just promoting the legal status of schools and other areas where there is little research available currently to say that they actually have a positive impact on pupil outcomes.”
Tom Kowalski, a primary school teacher from Batley and Spen, echoed Tracy and Samantha’s warnings.
He said: “’As a teacher who has worked across two local authorities, it is clear that a reduction in education funding is having a negative impact on our children.
“School leaders are having to make ever more difficult choices in terms of staffing and resources – there is simply not enough money in the system for all children to have the first-class education they deserve.”
Upper Batley High School and Batley Girls School were both listed as ‘Beacons of Success’ in the Growing Up North report released earlier this week by the Children’s Commissioner which said that children in the north of England are being left behind by their southern counterparts.
A full breakdown of the statistics, individual data for schools across Batley and Spen and the research methodology can be found at https://schoolcuts.org.uk/#!/
The School Cuts project is a joint initiative involving the NEU, NAHT, Unison, Unite the Union and the ASCL.