I really do think it is time to act on school finance. It may be too late for many. I documented the difficulties my school faced last year here:

Reduce Reduce Reduce – An Education Legacy

Constituents are being lied to regarding funding and it is schools who can show parents and carers the facts. If we are not going to spiral in to utter crisis in schools the next step is for all schools to write out to their community and get it to understand the extent and impact that these cuts will have on ‘their’ children. This first letter below is the starting point. Once the budget is in this year I will then share the FACTS of it with the community and lay out the way we will have to deal with these cuts.

Please get your school to write to your community. Get your local MP’s email (Easy) and give it to them.

Dear Parents and Careers,

I thought long and hard about this letter.

As you know Brookside Academy had to make many difficult decisions regarding funding last year. We weathered these difficult times and are in a better position than many schools are now – but the financial pressures are continuing at an unprecedented level.  It is now becoming very clear that the government will be continuing to increase the pressure on school funding. The following statistics are from the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) report ‘Breaking Point; A report of the school funding crisis in 2016/17’:

There is an estimated £3bn shortfall in the government’s education budget by 2020

98 per cent of schools are losing funding as a result of the cost pressures.

Analysis of the DfE’s own data points to a £339 loss for every primary age pupil and a £477 loss for every child in secondary school.

The number of schools in deficit has more than doubled since 2015.

71% of schools had to make cuts last year to balance their school budget.

The key reasons given for schools experiencing these financial pressures continue to be the 2015 increases in employers’ pension and national insurance contributions, given by 89% and 86% of respondents respectively. This increase in costs of over 5.5% every year with no resulting increase in school funding has been disastrous for schools.

This year, the third most quoted source of financial pressure reported by school leaders was the cost of dealing with the additional needs of pupils, reported by 83% of respondents

Worry about the impact of cuts to the Education Services Grant (ESG) for an academy is also a significant pressure, with 65% of academies reporting this as a concern. For Brookside this grant used to be in the hundreds of thousands – this year it will be zero pounds.

Members also expressed serious concerns about the extra pressure they are facing to support the growing number of children with mental health issues. Almost four fifths (79%) of respondents provide support for children with mental health issues directly, stepping in where cuts in health and social care funding have failed to meet the growing demand for support, without which children cannot engage with learning effectively.

Education is an investment in our future. The lack of specific investment in our schools and the impact of rising costs are the main reason I feel our school system is facing its biggest crisis since I became a teacher (21 years ago). I cannot state more strongly that this is my biggest concern in education right now.

I believe that parents and careers are the most powerful voice in this current situation. I believe many politicians also believe that investment in our schools must be a priority. When I recently visited China I was in awe at the investment there. New schools and a positive belief that education would be the most valuable investment the country could make seemed to be at the heart of all I saw and all I heard. They were busy looking towards the future and not making the mistakes of the past. We must invest in our state school education system because that is where the vast majority of children will experience their education. It will be invaluable for our children as they grow up in these uncertain times that they are equipped with the skills and knowledge to make their way in our world – at a time when many countries are investing in their education system, we are cutting investment in ours.

There are many things I believe you can do that will help your school:

I believe that James Heappy, our local MP, is a man who will listen to his constitutes and I have always found him to be someone who gives of his time and cares about our area. You could write to him at:

james.heappey.mp@parliament.uk

There is a website called Schools Cuts:

http://www.schoolcuts.org.uk/#/

Visit it and sign the petition. There is also plenty of additional information about the extent and nature of cuts coming to our schools.

I am aware that I have quoted from unions such as the National Association of Head Teachers and the National Union of Teachers but I believe that we have always found positive and proactive ways of addressing the challenges in education. I believe that by increasing our understanding of the problems and the issues that impact our schools we can address this issue head on. Thank you for reading this and I am happy to talk about it at the school gates.

I will do everything I can to ensure that our school continues to have the best provision we can provide. I will continue to champion and celebrate our fantastic children.

Brian Walton

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