A message from Mr Willis and Mrs Lewis:
On Friday 28 September we and 34 of our Headteacher colleagues from Oxfordshire will be joining hundreds of other Headteachers from across the country for an unprecedented event intended to gain much improved funding for all schools. We will travel to Parliament Square and then Downing Street to insist that the chancellor and his colleagues at the Department for Education use the upcoming autumn statement to invest properly in our schools and every child’s education. We are keen to assert that we are not taking a party political stance. Our aim is to make it clear that we have reached a position where even popular schools like our own, with a record of sound financial management, are making decisions that affect the students. We are worried that the public is not aware how acute the problem has become and Govt is getting away with pretending there is no problem with statements by officials that cover up what is happening. If we don’t speak for the young people then it is hard to see who will. Many of the real terms cuts to our budgets should be reversed and urgent investment is required for SEND and post-16 budgets.
You will be aware of the challenges that schools up and down the country are facing. A mixture of rising costs and stresses on other support services has meant that for many years we have been being asked “to do more with less”.
Under a challenging period of austerity for the Government we understand that there is not a bottomless pit of money. Accordingly, schools have played their part to work even harder and with greater efficiency on behalf of the children and families that we serve.
It is clear to all Headteachers, however, that matters are unsustainable. Frequently, we do not have enough money to meet the demands placed on our schools. On the ground, services and resources are cut to the bone and class sizes are increasing. At times, schools are even having to prop up our budgets with monies that should be targeted at those students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, or those that have Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
Under the umbrella of the campaign group @WorthLessFF Headteachers have shone a light on the funding difficulties that we are facing. We acknowledge that the Government should be given credit for introducing a new National Funding Formula. Unfortunately, however, the formula itself is not adequately resourced/funded and therefore our budgets remain in an unacceptably poor state.
In July, the Institute for Fiscal Studies echoed what we have been saying for a long time and confirmed that, in real terms, school budgets have been slashed by 8% since 2010. https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/13143
It is simply not good enough for the Government to state that “more money is spent on schools than ever before”, when independent evidence clearly states that in real terms, this is simply not the case.
The support that we have enjoyed from school and wider community has always been very welcome, it is not something we take for granted. We hope you will understand our decision to take this course of action and echo our plea to the chancellor and Secretary of State for Education to support schools, families and children in three fundamental ways:
- Fund all schools adequately and reverse the real terms cuts that have happened over the last 8 years
- Make an immediate £400 million cash injection to support the beleaguered SEND/High Needs Block
- Meaningfully improve real term per pupil funding for the post 16 education sector
We do this with the full support of our staff, our governing bodies and the Merchant Taylors’ Oxfordshire Academy Trust.