County backs teachers over funding ‘crisis’

Education
Education

Schools in West Sussex are missing out on up to £15m of Government funding due to an ‘unfair’ system, according to the county council.

All but one secondary head in Crawley were among those who signed an open letter earlier this month warning of a looming funding crisis and a potential catastrophe unless they were given their fair share of Government grants.

As West Sussex is the fourth-worst funded area in England due to an ‘outdated’ system, they warned cost-cutting could only be done by reducing staffing and increasing class sizes.

Jeremy Hunt, cabinet member for education and skills, wrote to the then Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, expressing his concerns over the issue.

The letter read: “If West Sussex was funded at the average SBUF (Schools Block Unit of Funding) for all county councils, our schools would have received an additional £15.1m. If we were funded at the SBUF for our statistical neighbours, schools would have received an additional £11.8m. This gap in provision is not fair funding.”

The letter went on to say the council ‘has not been able to fund, in full, the unavoidable cost pressures in schools in 2015/16’ and schools were considering ‘a range of options to set balanced budgets’.

Mr Hunt added: “The county council overall is having to reduce its budgets by £68m by 2017/18 in light of reduced government funding so there is simply no capacity for us to meet this shortfall.

“I am now calling on the next government to urgently address this unfair distribution of funding and I very much hope that whoever is the new minister will accept my invitation to meet and discuss this issue in more detail.”

Crawley heads who signed the letter were: Rob Corbett (Ifield Community College), Paul Kennedy (Holy Trinity), Michael Ferry (St Wilfrid’s), Phil Stack (Oriel), Pauline Montalto (Thomas Bennett), Grahame Robson (Manor Green).