Schools in Manchester will soon be seeing the impact of an estimated £3bn shortfall in the government’s education budget by 2020.
The picture is extremely bleak, with 98 per cent of schools set to lose funding, at a time when costs are rising and pupil numbers are growing.
Manchester is likely to lose an average of £647 per pupil – a total of nearly £46 million for the city as a whole. To put that number into context, it is the equivalent of 1,231 average teacher salaries.
The impact on learning will be significant. Class sizes in primary schools could rise and some GCSE and A Level subjects could be cut from the curriculum entirely as school budgets are pushed beyond breaking point.
The funding shortfall is a result of drastically increased costs and levies on schools with no additional money from the government. Manchester is also badly hit by the new national funding formula the government has introduced to calculate funding levels for schools in England.
While a fairer distribution of funding is the right thing to aim for, the introduction of the new formula at a time of real crisis in overall education funding means that schools in Manchester stand to lose significant amounts of money, putting teaching and school improvement at risk.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “School budgets are being pushed beyond breaking point. The government's £3 billion real terms cut to education funding must be reversed or we will see education and care suffer. Already heads are being forced to cut staff, cut the curriculum and cut specialist support. A new funding formula is the right thing to do, but it cannot be truly fair unless there is enough money to go round in the first place.”
NAHT is holding a series of national events to raise awareness amongst school leaders, governors and parents. We will be meeting in Manchester on Wednesday 1st March.
Angela Rayner MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, said: "I congratulate the NAHT on their campaign to raise awareness of the real terms cuts facing our schools – the first for decades.
"I know from school leaders themselves that many are now facing agonising choices between cutting the curriculum, resources and equipment or teachers’ jobs.
"Our children deserve better if they are to fulfil all of their potential and the Chancellor must now listen and give education the money it needs in his Budget next week."
Andy Burnham, candidate for Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “These savage cuts will lead to teacher redundancies and bigger class sizes at schools in areas of high deprivation.
“Every secondary school in Wigan will be a loser under the new formula, with most schools throughout the whole of Greater Manchester hit very hard.
“No wonder people are cynical about politics. On the one hand, we have Government ministers promising to build us a ‘Northern Powerhouse’. Then, on the other, we have the Education Secretary taking a sledgehammer to the very foundations on which that powerhouse would stand. If these school cuts were to go ahead, they would cause profound damage to our skills base and the economic prospects of our young people.”
Samantha Offord, Headteacher of Birchfields Primary School in Manchester, said: “At Birchfields Primary School, where I am Headteacher, we are facing a deficit of £225,000 by 2020. We are therefore, having to consider unimaginable cuts to teaching staff, support staff, resources and maintenance of our 87 year old building.
“Parents have already noticed a drop in our outstanding care for pupils, as we have not been replacing staff that leave, to avoid as many compulsory redundancies as possible.
“As social care budgets have been squeezed, many schools have employed social workers, police officers, educational psychologists and school nurses. These will be the first posts to go and will contribute to a perfect storm of underfunding in our public services.”
First published 01 March 2017