Solihull schools funding campaign plans imminent action as MP pledges support - The Solihull Observer

Solihull schools funding campaign plans imminent action as MP pledges support

Solihull Editorial 28th Mar, 2019   0

A SCHOOLS funding campaign in Solihull has planned imminent collective action as Meriden MP Dame Caroline Spelman has promised to lobby for much-needed cash.

The plans were announced days after the School Cuts campaign, which includes schools and teachers’ unions, released its latest figures appearing to show per real terms funding has fallen by £166 per pupil in the borough since 2015.

Previous figures released by School Cuts have been criticised by the UK Statistics Authority and by Solihull MP Julian Knight who labelled them ‘tosh’.

But as we reported earlier this month, grave concerns have been raised by headteachers at 15 hard-pressed Solihull schools on their funding ‘crisis’ – in an open letter to Mr Knight.

Dame Caroline has conceded funding concerns for schools in Solihull and Meriden are very real.

She said: “I have met with school heads to see how their budgets are put together and the underlying problem is still the National Funding Formula which I will seek to improve.

“But the uplift in teachers, salaries and pension contributions appear to have absorbed the cash increases schools were given so I will lobby for more.”

The Fair Funding for Solihull Schools campaign has announced its intention to organise some form of collective action to send a clear message on the ‘crisis’.

Campaign leader, governor and mum Jeni Mills said: “Our schools are putting on heroic efforts to continue to support our children and communities.

“There have been recent hints that the spending review will bring more money for schools but Solihull is at risk of once again being at the bottom of the pile as we remain silent on these issues.

“Recently our heads have taken action to raise the profile of the funding concerns in Solihull but these actions are falling on deaf ears.

“We will be planning some form of action over the coming weeks to raise the profile.”

Alderbrook Secondary School headteacher Dr Janette Smith – who spearheaded the letter to Mr Knight – warned schools are considering moving to reduced hours while her school has buildings beyond repair, and 14-year-old computers.

A spokesperson from the government’s Department for Education said of the School Cuts campaign’s latest figures: “We believe these figures are misleading.

“While we recognise that schools have faced budgeting challenges, this government has prioritised school funding, while taking difficult decisions in other areas of public spending – protecting the schools budget overall for 5 to 16 year olds in real terms since 2010.

“School funding in England is at its highest ever level and since 2017 we have given every local authority in England more money for every pupil in every school.

“Standards in our schools are rising; the attainment gap between disadvantaged students and their more affluent peers has narrowed since 2011; the proportion of pupils in good or outstanding schools has increased since 2010; and our primary school children have achieved their highest ever score on international reading tests.”

The School Cuts campaign claims in its latest figures, Solihull has lost more than £18million in real terms since 2015.


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