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Education leaders urge Norfolk heads to take fairer school funding fight to prime minister's doorstep

PUBLISHED: 08:00 18 June 2018 | UPDATED: 12:12 18 June 2018

Scott Lyons. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Scott Lyons. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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School leaders have been urged to take the fight for fairer school funding in Norfolk to the doorstep of the prime minister amid claims pupils are being short-changed by thousands of pounds each year.

Headteacher Jonathan Rice. Picture: Ian BurtHeadteacher Jonathan Rice. Picture: Ian Burt

School leaders have been urged to take the fight for fairer school funding in Norfolk to the doorstep of the prime minister amid claims pupils are being short-changed by thousands of pounds each year.

While the government says funding for schools has increased, rising costs, less grant support and a growing pupil roll means the majority are struggling to make ends meet.

Now Jonathan Rice - chairman of Educate Norfolk primary, which represents school leaders - has written to members urging them to attend a demonstration at 10 Downing Street in September.

Thirty headteachers from Suffolk have pledged to attend the Worth Less protest, which part of a national drive opposing real-terms education cuts - and Mr Rice wants a similar, if not better, turnout from Norfolk.

Mr Rice, headteacher at Caister Junior School, said: “This is a vital issue for all Norfolk schools and I would urge all headteachers to support the campaign in whatever way they can.

“Many of our schools are experiencing real hardship, staffing budgets are being tightened and there is a real impact on children. This only going to get worse so it’s important we act to make our views known to government and the wider public now.” He said schools had “a more powerful voice when we speak as one”.

In January, headteachers in Norfolk and Suffolk billed the government for £316m as part of the Worth Less campaign, in a bid to highlight how poorly both counties are funded.

In the current school years, Norfolk was allotted £4,499 per pupil, compared to £6,003 in Westminister and £6,847 in Hackney.

Scott Lyons, National Education Union Norfolk representative, said: “We are fully aware of the difficult position headteachers and governors have been put in by the effective cuts in school funding.

“Money has been wasted on projects which have failed, such as the £23m on studio schools. That money is being taken from school budgets. Parents are, and will continue to, see the impact.”

Anne Gibson, chairman of Norfolk Governance Network, said: “The direct costs of staffing have risen with the national living wage, pension costs, national insurance and the apprenticeship levy.

“But there is nothing to compensate schools for that. We are doing what we can, but it doesn’t help that funding isn’t keeping pace.”

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