‘Simply not enough money is coming to Devon schools,’ says Exmouth headteacher as county education chiefs take fairer funding fight to parliament

PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:08 23 January 2018

Exeter Road Primary School headteacher Paul Gosling has expressed his support for Devon's campaign on fair funding for schools.

Exeter Road Primary School headteacher Paul Gosling has expressed his support for Devon's campaign on fair funding for schools.

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“We are going to find it very hard to balance our books without changing things significantly. We need teachers, but all the other things schools do – all the things that are not our statutory responsibility – we are looking at cutting. We are talking about the life chances of children being damaged,” said Exmouth’s Exeter Road head teacher Paul Gosling.

An Exmouth headteacher says the ‘life chances’ of his pupils are being ‘damaged’ by a lack of funds as Devon education chiefs take their campaign for fair funding to parliament.

Exeter Road Primary School’s Paul Gosling said he fears for the future of education in the region because there is ‘simply not enough money coming to Devon schools’.

“However you cut the cake, there is still not enough,” he told the Journal.

His comments come as education chiefs in Devon renew their campaign for fair funding for schools. They have produced a detailed dossier on the stark funding gap that still exists with the South East.

They delivered figures to Devon MPs in Westminster on Tuesday detailing how much better off Devon’s schools would be if they were situated in London.

The Government’s new national funding formula has ring-fenced an extra £7.5million for schools in Devon next year. But they will still be left £268-per-pupil short of the national average.

The new figures, produced by Devon finance chiefs, compare schools in Devon with Hackney and Westminster, stripping out differentials such as rates and the extra paid for London-weighted salaries.

They have revealed primary schools in Hackney still get 19.6 per cent more funding than Devon and primary schools in Westminster get six per cent more.

For secondary schools, the differential is 31.9 per cent in Hackney and 13.8 per cent in Westminster.

And Mr Gosling said this disparity would have a huge impact on how his own school would continue to make ends meet.

He said: “We are going to find it very hard to balance our books without changing things significantly.

“We need teachers, but all the other things schools do – all the things that are not our statutory responsibility – we are looking at cutting.

“My fear is that we are going to have to cut teaching assistants, who do a lot of hard work. We are talking about the life chances of children being damaged.”

And his concerns were echoed by Devon’s cabinet member for schools James McInnes, who was among those taking the campaign to parliament on Tuesday.He said: “Funding per pupil within Devon is failing to keep pace with rising costs.

“And every year this continues, it becomes increasingly harder for our schools to maintain good standards of education.

“This is particularly so for children who have additional educational needs.”

Mr McInnes welcomed the Government’s 2018/19 increase of £300,000 for Devon’s ‘high needs’ budget. However, he said it still fell short of the £4million minimum needed to meet the educational needs of Devon’s most vulnerable children.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “We are investing an additional £1.3 billion in schools funding, over and above existing plans, with core schools funding rising from almost £41 billion in 2017-18 to £43.5 billion in 2019-20.

“Our new national funding formula will mean that school funding will be distributed according to a formula based on the individual needs and characteristics of every school in the country. Under the formula, Devon will receive an additional £13.2 million for their schools.”

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