MP’s education fears as study reveals a third of South West secondary schools in deficit

MP’s education fears as study reveals a third of South West secondary schools in deficit

More secondary schools in the south west than any other region of the UK cannot make ends meet, according to a new report published today, which details the extent of the funding crisis in education.

Stroud Labour MP David Drew says news that more than a third of south west secondary schools are in debt adds to the growing evidence that underfunding of schools is having an impact on education.

Mr Drew, Labour, invited headteachers from Stroud primary and secondary schools to an urgent meeting this week to outline their concerns about the impact of the lack of funding.

“I know that schools in my constituency are facing desperate funding shortages. Headteachers met me this week and described how the reality of underfunding is already affecting their ability to provide adequate support for children in Stroud,” he said.

More than a third of secondary schools (34.9%), maintained by local authorities in the south west, are now in deficit according to research published by the Education Policy Institute today.

The figures for the southwest are significantly higher than other regions. Nationally, 26.1% of local authority maintained secondary schools are in deficit.

“Headteachers tell me that they are increasingly expected to deal with wider social needs of pupils, and that the lack of support for families from other services,” said Mr Drew.

“They say it is becoming harder to recruit teachers, and that there is an increasing reliance on newly qualified teachers.

“Support for children with additional needs is stretched to breaking point, or lacking. Local authorities also have a shrinking budget to support children with special educational needs.

“All of these issues are the result of chronic under investment in education over recent years.

“I am also saddened at the breakdown in co-operation between our schools. We are seeing them competing for pupils, and the accompanying funding, rather than sharing expertise and resources. This lack of co-operation is only exacerbated by the emphasis on league tables, SATS testing and exam results to the detriment of wider educational provision.”

The number of schools in the south west in deficit, has risen dramatically in the last few years, up from 22% of south west schools in 2010.

Research by the Educational Policy Institute (EPI), an independent think tank, found the proportion of local authority secondary schools in deficit rose from 8.8% in 2013-14 to 26.1% in 2016-2017.

The institute also found a significant increase in the number primary schools in deficit.

The EPI looked at local authority schools, rather than academies, because the data is publicly available.

“It is clear from this report and other recent analysis that after a period of significant real rises in school funding under the Blair and Brown governments (from 1997-2010), and protected real budgets under the 2010-2015 Coalition, we are presently in a period where in many schools, annual budget changes are not keeping pace with inflationary pressures,” writes Rt Hon David Laws, chairman of the EPI.

“Our analysis suggests that schools may struggle to deliver the cost savings needed without making reductions in staffing…there needs to be close scrutiny on how such staffing reductions are made and whether they can be delivered without an impact on standards.”

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