Headteacher joins calls for improved school funding
- Credit: Paul Gosling
An Exmouth headteacher has backed calls for improved school funding.
Paul Gosling, head at Exeter Road Community Primary School, joined other local school leaders at an event in Exeter on Friday organised by the National Association of Headteachers.
They are deeply concerned about the funding cuts to schools in the area and the negative impact that will have on children.
Mr Gosling, who is vice-president of the NAHT, said: “At my school, Exeter Road Community Primary School in Exmouth, a one form entry primary school, we had 69 pupils eligible for free school meals in October 2020 but this had risen to 76 by the January 2021 census.
“The increase in children eligible for free school meals was caused by parents losing their jobs because of the lockdowns. My school is in a seaside town, so much of the economy is driven by the hospitality industry and self-employed service jobs such as hairdressing.
“If I was funded based on the January 2021 free school meal numbers (as it usually is) we could expect an extra £9,500, which would allow me to put things in place for the increased number of children; we have lost out of funding. Ofsted will hold me to account for all free school meal children, not just the ones who were having free school meals in October 2020.”
Ruhaina Alford, an executive head in the county, told delegates: “The funding crisis results in a Hobson's choice for heads: which of the most essential resources will children have and which will they have to do without?
“You would expect an essential like reading books to be provided by the school. But no - to afford these, parents and the local community have to constantly fundraise. So, although parents are sending their children to a state maintained school, they are still footing the bill. Is this fair?”
Also attending was Paul Whiteman, NAHT's boss and general secretary. He told members at the event: "The government’s failure to invest in schools is harming the chances of young people. Every area of public services requires additional government money to cope with the impact of the pandemic and to guarantee a successful recovery. The education sector is no different, but our research shows that almost a third of school leaders are being forced to make cuts in 2020/21.”
NAHT has just published its latest report into school finances across England.
The report found that one in four (26 per cent) school leaders predict a deficit budget in 2021/22 based on current funding levels.
Almost all school leaders (95 per cent) reported that top-up funding for pupils with education, health and care (EHC) plans was insufficient.
As a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, school leaders reported average additional costs (such as enhanced cleaning and safety measures) of £24,571.
Schools also reported average lost income (for example, rental or lettings of facilities) of £21,867.
NAHT’s findings come as the Institute for Fiscal Studies reported that school spending per pupil in England fell by 9% in real terms between 2009-10 and 2019-20, which is the largest cut in over 40 years. Almost three-quarters (73%) of schools still have lower per pupil funding in real terms than they did in 2015. Current ‘recovery’ spending in England amounts to around £310 per child according to the Education Policy Institute compared to £1800 in the USA and £2100 in the Netherlands.