Valley schools could lose 30 teaching posts

Ribblesdale High School, Clitheroe.
Ribblesdale High School, Clitheroe.

The National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers have issued the stark  warning that England’s schools are now experiencing the largest cuts in funding in more than a generation.

The unions say schools are struggling financially, with class sizes rising, curriculum choices being cut, special needs pupils losing vital support and school staff losing their jobs.

Data for schools in the Ribble Valley suggests that a total of 31 teaching positions would be lost by 2020.

The NUT and ATL this week launched schoolcuts.org.uk – an interactive map of England’s schools which shows the likely effect on every school of plans to redistribute the existing funding between schools in England.

The website enables users to see precisely how each individual school could be affected in real terms by the Government’s intention to implement a new funding formula for schools alongside real terms cuts to funding per pupil and cost increases being imposed by the Government.

By entering a post code on the website homepage, visitors can see how all the schools in that area are likely to fare between now and 2020 and how that estimated funding loss equates into numbers of teacher posts.

The formula used in the website is based on the Government’s own spending plans and school data, Institute for Fiscal Studies projections for the cost of inflation and other cost increases, and the new funding formula proposed by the influential F40 campaign group of local authorities.

A spokesman said: “Unless the Government allocates additional money, schools and academies will lose huge amounts of money – rising to £2.5 billion a year in real terms by 2020.

“We estimate that 92% of schools could lose out, even after the introduction of a new funding formula. These cuts will hurt us all.”

Mr Michael Wright, Headteacher at St Augustine’s RC high School, Billington, said: “The government has delayed the introduction of a new funding formula which aims to ensure that areas with the highest need attract the most funding and which will end the historic unfairness in the system of funding schools.

“Until the second stage of the formula consultation is published, it is not possible to draw firm conclusions about future funding levels for schools.

“However, the Institute for Fiscal Studies forecasts that school spending per pupil is likely to fall by around 8% in real terms (based on a school specific measure of inflation) between 2014–15 and 2019–20, the first time school spending has fallen since the mid-90s.

“Staffing levels, buildings and classroom resources are all areas that are facing reductions in expenditure due to the financial pressures facing schools.

“The Ribble Valley has excellent education provision in both primary and secondary sectors but with flat cash and rising costs it is unrealistic for the government to expect standards to continue to improve without sufficient funding.”

Mr Stephen Cox, headteacher of Ribblesdale High School said: “Whilst I am sure Ribblesdale High School will continue to thrive in the next four years, there is no doubt in my mind that the impact of increased costs allied with no increase in funding will lead to some very difficult decisions.

“The school and its Governing Body are very aware of the challenges we, and most other schools face, and have drawn up strategies to try and minimise the impact on our pupils of these financial pressures.

“Our frustration is furthered by the delay of the Department for Education implementing a Fair Funding policy across all schools in England.

“I strongly suspect that the vast majority of schools in the Ribble Valley would benefit from a fairer approach to school funding rather the current arrangements which are steeped in historical factors which have little bearing on the current needs of schools and their pupils.”