Video - Our schools desperately need more funds, David Drew MP tells Minister
30 January 2019
Gloucestershire Schools desperately need more funds - David Drew MP tells minister
David Drew MP today raised the funding crisis in Gloucestershire schools in parliament after securing a special debate in parliament.
Mr Drew, Labour MP for Stroud, was granted the special Westminster Hall, following several requests, which was an opportunity to raise concerns directly with Schools Minister Nick Gibb.
“I have met with headteachers of primary, secondary and special schools over recent months and they all tell me the same thing; that school finances are on the brink and are having a real impact on our children.
“Our most vulnerable children are hit hardest, so I welcomed the opportunity to raise this directly with Schools Minister Nick Gibb.
“I hope he will take heed and invest in our children so they can all fulfil their potential. I will continue to fight for Gloucestershire schools, teachers and our children.”
Mr Drew asked teachers and parent to contact him ahead of his debate to tell him about the situation in their schools.
He told Schools Minister Nick Gibb and other Gloucestershire MPs, that he had been inundated with responses.
“We received over 50 responses, many from headteachers and governors from across the county. They paint a bleak picture, particularly of children missing out on the support they need,” he said, speaking after the debate.
Mr Drew’s constituents reported:
Schools using general funds to cover special needs support
Teaching assistants contracted to support a child with SEND but instead working to support the whole class
Paper being rationed to a ‘class allocation’
Schools being financially hit for inclusivity, as they try to support SEND children
Schools running deficit budgets.
Sarah Murphy, National Education Union, Gloucestershire, said:
“We are no longer at the ‘reduce your photocopying’ stage in Gloucestershire. We are at the ‘don’t expect a Teaching Assistant but do expect a class size of 35 and certainly don’t expect a pay rise’ stage.”
Julia Maunder headteacher of Thomas Keble School welcomed the debate and said:
“Inclusive schools like ours have to use 85% of the money intended to support vulnerable children with additional needs, to top up the Per Pupil Funding just to reach the same level as schools with low levels of additional needs.
“This is resulting in a two-tier education system where inclusive schools receive less money for core curriculum provision.”
One headteacher of a Stroud primary school said;
“One of the more tragic results of the cuts will be the financial disincentive to give vulnerable children places. In an increasingly 'competitive' climate there will, sadly, be schools actively finding ways to turn these children away so they become someone else's problem.
“Genuinely inclusive schools are penalised both financially and in league tables. It's a sad indicator of the priorities of our Government.”
Mr Drew raised these comments directly with Schools Minister Nick Gibb in his special debate in Westminster Hall, on Wednesday 30 January. Mr Drew told the minister;
“Cuts to SEND funding have not kept pace with rising demand.
“The fact is that Gloucestershire has a special needs crisis and this is having a knock-on effect on provision for all children.”
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said;
“The government is determined to create an education system where opportunity is available to everyone no matter their circumstances or where they live and schools must have the resources they need to make this happen.”
School funding in Gloucestershire
- The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said school spending per pupil has fallen by 8% in real terms from 2009/10 to 2017/18.
- Gloucestershire secondary schools remain near the bottom of funding league tables, 130th out of 149 Local Authorities for Schools Block Funding, the largest source of their revenue.
- Children in Gloucestershire secondary schools receive £4,886 per pupil, £343 below the England average of £5,229.
- Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) is predicting an overspend in SEND of £4.7m. The number of children with EHCPs (Education Health Care Plans) in Glos has almost doubled since 2015.
- To reduce that overspend, GCC has now reduced the funding it provides to schools to support children with special needs, so schools are picking up more of the financial burden.
- GCC’s Lead Education Officer, Stewart King, told Gloucestershire Schools Forum in January that the overspend puts Glos in "a very serious and challenging position”.
- Coun Richard Boyles, cabinet member for children and young people, has said: “Despite this overall increase in funding our schools still face many challenges with more children than ever needing intensive help and support at school and more than 3,500 in receipt of Education Health and Care Plans. We will also continue to lobby for fairer funding for all children in schools across the county.”