14th Oct, 2019

Campaign warns Solihull schools have 'nothing left to cut' amid MP's petition to government

Felix Nobes 11th Jul, 2019 Updated: 11th Jul, 2019

A SCHOOLS funding campaign in Solihull has warned ‘there is nothing left to cut’ – while the Meriden MP has launched a petition to government.

Securing more funding for Solihull schools is being made a top priority by many local political parties.

Stark warnings from headteachers say insufficient grants are leaving borough schools facing further cuts.

Governor and leading figure of the Fair Funding for Solihull Schools campaign, Jeni Mills, says recent increases still leave the borough below the national funding average and in desperate need of a more generous settlement.

But she added that Solihull receiving a bigger slice of a scant national funding pot would only damage schools in other authorities, and has urged MPs and councillors to lobby government to increase the overall budget.

Conservative MP Dame Caroline Spelman is seeking signatures for her petition calling on education secretary Damian Hinds to ‘urgently review’ what she describes as the government’s discriminatory funding formula.

Fresh concerns have been sparked after education cabinet member Ken Meeson told a full council meeting that 19 schools are forecasting deficits beyond next year, as we reported.

The announcement intensified concerns that schools could be forced to cut staff, the school week or other important services for children.

Ms Mills, who in March warned the situation in classrooms was desperate, told us: “The situation is no different and costs are rising faster than budgets.

“The only difference is because our schools have been forced to spend their reserves the budgets are evidencing the overspending that we have been talking about for the last three years – and the Conservatives have been forced to admit that schools cannot cope.

“We have received increased funding from the fairer funding formula but our schools will still receive less than the national minimum that was promised.

“There simply is not enough in the system – schools have eliminated all waste. There really is nothing left to cut.”

Solihull is one of 42 local authorities among the lowest funded for education in England, according to the F40 campaign which the council is a member of.

Green Party councillor Max McLoughlin is also calling on councils like Solihull to send a strong message to the prospective Conservative Prime Minister about overall funding.

Yesterday, Dame Caroline started the online petition calling for the review despite previously suggesting the situation was improving.

The petition – named ‘Local Conservatives fight for fairer school funding’ – states: “We, the undersigned, call upon the Secretary of State for Education, to urgently review schools’ funding in Solihull.

“Parents, guardians, carers and school staff feel the current funding formula discriminates against us, leaving our schools underfunded.

“We urge a review of the basic entitlement, in line with the increasing financial pressures schools face.”

Her concerns were mirrored by Conservative councillor James Butler who tweeted: “School funding has to be a priority in Solihull. The formula isn’t fair and this must be addressed!”

Solihull Liberal Democrats tweeted last week: “Our schools need fair funding urgently. All of our councillors support the #GiveMe5 campaign. Save our schools!”

The GiveMe5 campaign aims to ensure that all schools receive enough funding to keep schools open for five days a week, without cutting hours.

To sign the petition visit here

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