Saffron Walden County High headteacher says county’s schools face ‘extremely bleak’ financial outlook

PUBLISHED: 06:00 23 February 2017 | UPDATED: 09:49 24 February 2017

Saffron Walden County High School. Picture: SaffronPhoto

Saffron Walden County High School. Picture: SaffronPhoto

SaffronPhoto 2016

Saffron Walden County High’s headteacher says secondary schools in Essex are facing an “extremely bleak” financial outlook due to funding shortages.

Caroline DerbyshireCaroline Derbyshire

Caroline Derbyshire says the county’s headteachers are genuinely concerned the Government’s funding shake-up has failed to tackle shortfalls in school budgets.

Ms Derbyshire is calling on Saffron Walden MP Sir Alan Haselhurst to support ‘Fund the 8%’ – a campaign to increase overall allocation of money to schools to enable them to meet additional 8% costs.

In a 1,000-word letter to Sir Alan, Ms Derbyshire says the Government’s new funding formula, which she initially supported, will see the majority of Essex schools in a worse position financially over the next three to four years.

She said the Department for Education’s formula proposals are simply “giving with one hand while taking away with two”.

In a statement, Ms Derbyshire said: “This is an unprecedented show of unity by the Association of Secondary Headteachers in Essex – leading schools from across the spectrum including community, faith, foundation, grammar and academy – stating they are not going to put up with the unnecessary confusion and disruption being caused.

“Essex Secondary Headteachers has written to every Essex MP outlining their genuine concern that regardless of government rhetoric about the national funding formula and extra funding, the reality is that schools are underfunded by 8%.

“Even if the national funding formula is introduced in 2018, Essex schools, as a whole, will still be in the bottom third of the funding levels of all the local authorities in England.

“Headteachers in Essex are having to take draconian action in the face of this dire financial situation, and if you talk to headteachers, you will hear a deafening chorus of what they are most worried about - a shortage of funding and teachers.

“Schools minister Nick Gibb is hoping to weather the storm and is seemingly oblivious to the fast approaching funding tsunami.”

Ms Derbyshire added Uttlesford Secondary Headteachers will meet as a group with Sir Alan to discuss concerns over funding and will ask for his support with the campaign.

The Department for Education (DfE) argues the new funding formula will provide a much fairer basis for allocating funds to schools.

Education secretary Justine Greening said: “We need a system that funds schools according to the needs of their pupils rather than their postcode, levelling the playing field.”

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