Crisis in education funding is hitting opportunities for all
As part of my constituency work, I’ve been meeting headteachers from across the constituency to try to build up a picture of the issues our schools face. There can be no doubt that the crisis in education funding is here. The situation in our schools is now so desperate that the quality of education and breadth of opportunity will be affected by the woeful lack of funds.
Last week the Education Policy Institute revealed that schools here in the South West are faring particularly badly. Over a third of local authority funded secondary schools in the South West can’t make ends meet – the region with the highest proportion of schools in deficit in the UK.
The institute’s findings also reveal that the number of primary schools in deficit has risen too, and the size of the average deficit has also increased, from £72,042 in 2010-11, to £107,962 in 2016-17.
The introduction of the government’s new National Funding Formula for financing schools, provides little reason for optimism.
Gloucestershire has been a county which has always suffered from poor education funding compared to our neighbours, and sadly there is no brighter future looming for our children.
Schools face rising costs and are being forced to make desperate and difficult choices, such as cutting subjects from the curriculum and support for children with additional needs.
The squeeze on funding comes as schools are feeling the strain in other ways. Recruiting teachers into the profession is getting harder, and workloads are increasing. Schools are being forced to do more with less resource, and pick up the pieces where other services, such as our children’s centres and services offering family support, would once have been able to step in.
And, as ever, it is the most vulnerable who will suffer most, as our schools become less able to offer broad support. The number of pupils excluded from schools in some parts of England has quadrupled in three years. Too many children with special educational needs or a disability are among those excluded; they account for half of all permanent exclusions, despite only being 14% of the overall school population. There can be little doubt that the Government’s cuts to funding to support inclusion can be too blame.
We are now seeing the ongoing consequences of the erosion of an education system which is pitting our schools against each other to compete for funding and undermines inclusivity and opportunity for all.