Weston-super-Mare headteacher voices concern over schools’ future

PUBLISHED: 10:00 20 February 2017 | UPDATED: 11:52 21 February 2017

Schools will be facing budget cuts.

Schools will be facing budget cuts.

Archant

Primary schools in North Somerset will be the ‘biggest losers’ when new budgets come into play which will put teachers’ jobs at risk and result in a loss of funding for pupils.

That is the view of a Worle headteacher after the Government announced back in November it would slowly transition towards a new school funding system, which could mean the district’s schools miss out on £5million in the next four years.

There will be changes to the way money is allocated to schools and there will also be a 75 per cent reduction in the education services grant, which is money provided to help cater lessons and care to special needs students.

These imminent changes have prompted the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) to research the impact it would have on North Somerset. In the district there is an estimated shortfall of £9,388,140 in school funding by 2019, which equates to £345 per pupil or 252 teachers’ salaries. School are predicted to lose varying amounts, with primary schools likely to be at risk of losing the most funding. For example, Worle Village Primary School could lose £336 per pupil, which is the equivalent of two teachers.

Sue Elliott, the headteacher at Worle Village, said smaller schools in the more deprived areas of the district are most at risk of losing a large amount of funding.

She said: “All schools in our area are concerned by the changes in funding. We have not been advised of our actual budgets yet but the 
new national funding formula indicates that there will be both winners and losers in our area, with the biggest losers being small primary schools and those in the most deprived areas.

“Many schools are concerned about having to set a deficit budget or are having to use their carry forward or savings which are earmarked for whole school improvements or other essential services.

“This will obviously impact our schools in the future. Apart from having less revenue from the main budget, less additional needs funding and the decline in North Somerset services, there are also greater costs involved in running a school.”

A department for education spokesperson said: “The union’s figures are fundamentally misleading. They ignore the fact that schools funding is driven by pupil numbers and as pupil numbers rise, the amount of money schools receive will also increase.

“School funding is at its highest level on record and will be over £40bn in 2016-17.

“But the system for distributing that funding across the country is unfair, opaque and outdated. We are going to end the historic post code lottery in school funding and create a system that funds schools fairly and according to the needs of their pupils. Under the proposed national schools funding formula, more than half of England’s schools will receive a cash boost

“We are consulting on the factors that will make up the formula and we know that it is important that we get this right so that every pound of the investment we make in education has the greatest impact.

“The consultation will run until 22 March 2017, and we are keen to hear from as many schools, governors, local authorities and parents as possible.

“Funding every child fairly and according to their needs is at the heart of delivering the government’s pledge to build a country that works for everyone.

“We recognise that schools are facing cost pressures, which is why we will continue to provide 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.”

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