Schools 'in crisis' due to years of funding cuts
PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 September 2019
Schools are facing huge repair bills, a lack of staff and outdated facilities after years of funding cuts.
Headteachers in Weston say they are at crisis point with staff hours being cut and a lack of support for children with special educational needs.
The Mercury sent a survey out to schools across North Somerset and responses revealed a long list of repairs needed on buildings which are 'tired, dated and unfit for 21st century educational needs'.
One school is in need of roof repairs totalling £200,000 and block refurbishment at £400,000.
Another needs to find £637,000 for a new heating system, while a third school is in need of two more classrooms which will cost £250,000.
Headteachers are calling for fairer funding to ensure pupils receive the same amount of money wherever they live, plus a review of school buildings.
One school said: "Buildings need to be assessed to measure if they are fit for purpose, particularly small rural schools.
"Some are over 100 years old and in need of urgent repair.
"The Government needs to listen to headteachers when they say they are at crisis point and in one to two years time any reserves accumulated in school budgets will be completely eliminated with no back up to secure their future in the local communities."
Out of the five schools which replied, three of them need repairs to roofs. Other needs included the replacement of disabled ramps, window repairs and new light fittings and fences, although schools were reluctant to identify themselves.
The list for items they cannot afford is even longer, including more teaching and learning support staff, books, IT equipment, LED lighting, and classrooms.
Two schools also said they needed a new hall and expansions to their kitchens as they have outgrown their space.
One headteacher summed up the dire situation, saying: "Best value costs are sought at all times. However the budget is more than 80 per cent staffing costs and while curriculum budgets are stagnant for the fourth year running. When a vacancy has occurred the post is reviewed and support staff hours have been cut.
"The leadership team is reduced compared to five years ago and the teaching timetable is planned to the minute."
Teachers said a fairer funding formula is needed so education is not a postcode lottery.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised schools an extra £14billion over the next three years to help with budget cuts.
This means every secondary school in Weston will receive at least £5,000 per pupil next year and every primary will get at least £4,000 per pupil from 2021-22.
A further £700million has been promised for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Weston MP John Penrose said: "For decades Weston's teachers have been given less money to teach children with similar needs and backgrounds compared to Labour-voting inner-city areas like Bristol. That's not right or fair."