A grass-roots campaign by school leaders in the North East of England has seen them send a letter to parents because they feel their school budgets are at ‘breaking point’.
The letter, which is a first for school leaders in the region, hopes to bring more parents on board the campaign to secure more funding for schools. It encourages parents to sign a parliamentary petition and suggests that they write to their local MP.
The move follows the successful North East Education Summit on 16 November in Chester-le-Street, where more than 150 school leaders, teachers and governors committed to take further action to give the children of the North East the education they deserve.
School leaders in Gateshead have already written to parents letting them know about the funding difficulties and what parents can do to support the campaign to fund schools properly. NAHT is now supporting members across the whole of the North East to send letters to parents as well. The letters began to be sent home on Friday 7th December and will continue to be used up to the end of the Christmas term.
The schools are also being supported by local authorities and North East church dioceses because they ‘know only too well the impact that funding cuts are having in their area and understand that it is crucial to engage parents.’ The letter to parents asks them to take action a sign a petition to Parliament, started in Gateshead, which has already gained over 18,000 signatures.
Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary, said: “54 per cent of MPs agree that there is a school funding crisis. As campaigners, this gives us hope. But it also tells us that there is more to do. As our letter says, on average, school funding in the North East will be cut by £30,904 per primary school and £189,776 per secondary school by the year 2019/20 compared to 2015/16. And yet the government continues to use misleading figures about school funding and standards. This needs to stop, and parents need to be told the truth.”
Peter King, Head Teacher at the Federation of Mowden Schools in Darlington, said: "Westminster just won't acknowledge how difficult the funding issue is here in the North East. School leaders have previously tried to shield parents from the difficulties but because the situation is not sustainable, we now need parents to be fully aware. There simply are not the savings to be made that can make up for the huge shortfall in our funding. It feels very unfair to our children and to our staff."
Mustafaa Malik, Head Teacher at Harlow Green Community Primary School in Gateshead, said: “The financial situation for schools has become critical. As a member of the Local Authority’s School Forum, I have seen the continued struggle for schools in relation to budgeting, year on year. Schools have cut back, where they can quickly do so on many aspects over the last few years as resources become more expensive whilst funding has not kept up with inflation. We are now in a position where Gateshead schools must make redundancies with a great many other schools being informed that they will be in a potential deficit budget over the next two to three years. Schools have an ever-increasing part to play in supporting children and their wider families, but this is being expected whilst our resources are reducing. In the end, it is the children within our communities who will suffer – they deserve better.”
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