Exmouth headteacher warns of funding shortfall

Exeter Road School

Exeter Road School - Credit: Archant

An Exmouth headteacher has said his school could be forced to make staffing cuts due to a lack of funding.

Paul Gosling, of Exeter Road Primary School, made the comments after teaching union NAHT said the Government faced a £3billion shortfall in its education budget.

In response, the Department for Education (DfE) said the union’s figures were ‘fundamentally misleading’, and insisted that school funding was at record levels.

Mr Gosling said: “Exeter Road has a higher percentage of children from disadvantaged backgrounds than the national average but this school performs well because of the contribution that support staff make to the welfare and learning of vulnerable children.

“We are now preparing for the 2017/18 financial year and, based on the information that we currently have, unless we continue to make some cuts in our staffing costs, we will not be able to balance our budget.

“Our good performance is put at risk by the savings we might be forced to make, as the number of support staff we employ is the only place left that we can cut.”

NAHT says Devon is likely to lose an average of £401 per pupil by 2020.

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The spokesman added: “The government is currently pushing ahead with a new formula to calculate funding levels for schools in England. Whilst this is welcome, many voices in education believe that the £3bn real terms funding shortfall will derail this process before it even gets started.”

A DfE spokesman said: “The union’s figures are fundamentally misleading. School funding is at its highest level on record and will be over £40billion in 2016-17. Over the last six years, we have seen the number of children being taught in schools rated good or outstanding rise by more than 1.8 million.

“The unions ignore the fact that we are protecting per pupil funding so where pupil numbers rise, the amount of money schools receive will increase.

“We recognise that schools are facing cost pressures, which is why we will continue to provide advice and support to help them use their funding in cost-effective ways, including improving the way they buy goods and services, so they get the best possible value for their pupils.”

The spokesperson added that the proposed national funding formula would end a ‘postcode lottery’ in school funding, and give more than half of England’s schools a cash boost.

However, the draft proposals have been criticised by East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire, with more than half the schools in his constituency set to see their funding reduced.