Saffron Walden head teacher urges parents to fight for more school funding

PUBLISHED: 11:47 08 March 2019

Caroline Derbyshire, head teacher at Saffron Walden County High School.

Caroline Derbyshire, head teacher at Saffron Walden County High School.

Archant

More than 7,000 head teachers, including Caroline Derbyshire from Saffron Walden County High School, have written a joint letter to 3.5 million families, warning of worsening budget shortages.

The letter from Ms Derbyshire, sent to parents today (March 8), said: “Sadly, I have to confirm that despite intense lobbying of the Government and Department for Education, matters remain extremely challenging.

“In short, schools are still not being provided with adequate funding and resource to deliver the level of provision and support that is expected and that our families and children deserve.”

The letter contains a list of concerns - including reduction of school budgets since 2010 and increasing class sizes.

Ms Derbyshire said: “These issues are not simply affecting a few schools. They are common features across our education system up and down the country. Levels of concern are so widespread amongst head teachers that we are all working together with a united voice.

“In 2019, in Essex, our concerns have been compounded by the Local Authority’s decision, which was endorsed by the Secretary of State, to top-slice schools’ budgets in order to fund the ‘high needs’ sector, which has also been underfunded.

“Although high needs should be funded more generously, the solution to cut funding from mainstream schools to do so makes our job much harder and, ultimately, affects all children.”

Despite writing to the education secretary, Damian Hinds, on three separate occasions since September 2018, head teachers say they are “extremely disappointed” that he has chosen to ignore their communications and repeated requests to meet.

The letter outlines why they are calling for a meeting.

Head teachers want to contribute constructively to overcome current funding issues and reflect the serious concerns expressed by families regarding “inadequate levels of resource and provision”, especially for our most vulnerable students.

Head teachers also want to ensure that schools receive a much better deal when future Government spending plans are drawn up

over the next few months.

They also want to indicate “serious and rising concerns” relating to the wider pastoral and social care that schools are expected to provide against a background of severe cuts to local authority provision.

The Department for Education defended its record on school spending, saying that it was at its “highest ever level, rising from almost £41bn in 2017-18 to £43.5bn by 2019-20”.

The DfE told the BBC it was “fundamentally untrue” to say funding was not a priority for the education secretary.

The letter concludes by urging parents to make representations to their local MP to ensure matters improve.

Ms Derbyshire said: “Head teacher colleagues and I feel fortunate that we have been so strongly supported by parents and carers as we campaign for a much improved level of funding for our schools and pupils.

“We urge you to continue to make representations to your local MP and to the Department for Education and wider Government to ensure that matters improve.”

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