Thousands of parents have hit out at Government plans that could see budgets cut in almost every school in Nottingham.
More than 4,500 concerned parents have joined head teachers, MPs and leaders at Nottingham City Council to call for a rethink on the proposed new National Funding Formula.
Calculations show that 98% of schools in the city would receive less money under the new formula from April 2018.
The reduction would be to schools’ core budget, which pays for all running costs – at a time when pupil numbers in the city are rising. In real terms, after inflation and other costs, this means schools in the city could on average lose £168,000 per primary per year and £491,000 per secondary per year.
This cut to Nottingham City schools budgets runs in line with other large cities and urban areas with the highest levels of child poverty such as Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool.
This process, which is being driven by overall funding cuts nationally, has caused The National Audit Office to warn that schools face an 8% real terms cut in funding per pupil by 2019-20.
Nottingham City Council wrote to every school parent and carer to explain how the proposed new National Funding Formula will affect their children.
At total of 4, 614 parents responded, with 4,502 (98%) saying they did not want their children and their schools to lose out.
Cllr Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment and Skills, said: “The parents of Nottingham have spoken – and they have clearly rejected a proposal that would see less money coming into their children’s schools.
“These budget cuts will mean cuts to important aspects of school life. Faced with reducing funds, schools in Nottingham will have to reduce services. And it’s the added enrichment, the out of normal hours services, the holiday clubs, the breakfast clubs, the trips to broaden the horizons of our children, the reading sessions for parents, the extra-curricular sports, culture and arts activities that I fear will be first to go.
“We’ve collated all of the feedback to give to the Department of Education so we can show Nottingham’s collective response to the plans.”
Among the comments made by parents were:
- “This is unacceptable. The education of children is a vital part of this country.”
- “We need MORE teachers and teaching assistants. I beg you not to do this; you are making a big mistake.”
- “I understand that some schools require more funding but this should come from an increase in total budget not by taking it from other schools.”
- “Good results come from well-resourced and funded schools. Leave them alone!”
Head teacher Sue Hoyland, of Forest Fields Primary and Nursery School, added her voice to the consultation. Although Forest Fields would gain slightly under the proposals, she said: “Although, as a growing school, we are projected to be a winner, by an estimated £15 000, under the proposed Fair Funding Formula, in real terms all Nottingham City schools and schools across the country are facing hugely depleted budgets due to a range of substantial additional costs over and above the usual costs of services, salaries and resources.
“We are looking at a loss in real terms in the tens of thousands of pounds. The pupils, parents and staff of Forest Fields will not be considering themselves winners.”
Graham Allen MP for Nottingham North said: “The statistics on schools, education and training deprivation in England shows Nottingham North as bottom of the league table. We want to make the position better but this will make matters worse for local children.”
Chris Leslie MP for Nottingham East said: “Education is so vital for our children and I’m really concerned to ensure that the children of Nottingham get a fair deal and that they get the education they need and deserve. The Government should rethink this school funding formula, so that Nottingham children don’t lose out.”
Lilian Greenwood MP for Nottingham South said: “Under this Government, schools are already facing a real-term cut to their budgets for the first time in nearly 20 years. Now the new National Funding Formula is set to make a difficult situation even worse, with every single school in Nottingham South set to see the funding per pupil cut by hundreds of pounds. I support the principle of fair funding, but that cannot be at the expense of children in my constituency, where there are high levels of need and we already face the challenge of closing the gap in educational outcomes between children from poorer homes and those in wealthier ones. The Secretary of State must listen and think again.”
The Department for Education’s closing deadline for comments on the proposal is 22 March 2017.