Bath MP Wera Hobhouse called on the government to increase support for schools in a passionate Westminster Hall speech this afternoon.
“Three out of four schools in my Bath constituency are losing funding. Our nation’s schools are in the depths of a funding crisis, and the government is refusing to acknowledge it.”
“The government’s so called fair-funding formula eradicates the extra funds that used to go to schools whose catchment areas had high levels of deprivation. Schools who need the most support for their children are losing the most money. But the government has found some extra money - £50 million pounds - for grammar schools. It demonstrates clearly the government’s commitment to inequality.”
“Inequality has no place in our society. Every young child has the right to achieve their full potential, and should receive the support and education to do so. That costs money and the state has a duty to provide it.”
By 2020, the government will have taken £8.6 billion out of the education system. School budgets are at breaking point with 55% of academies reporting deficit budgets and 75% of secondary schools saying they are spending more than their income. 73 Local Authority areas will see cuts of 5% or more by 2019/20 and 91% of schools face real term cuts by 2019/20 compared to 2015/16.
As cuts continue, teachers as well as support staff are lost - as staffing forms around 85% / 90% of school budgets. In the last two years, 15,000 posts have been deleted in secondary schools.
Hobhouse, a former secondary school modern languages teacher, shared the challenges faced by Twerton Infant School and Nursery in Bath, which is located in a incredibly strong community which has high levels of deprivation. Under the new funding system, they will receive a 0.5% increase in funding next year. However, they will pay their teachers 2% more and their support staff between 2% and 5% more. With inflation of around 2.5%, their financial outlook looks incredibly bleak.
“Twerton Infants are facing a funding black hole of at least £50,000. During Education Questions last week, I asked the Minister if school funding was rising in line with inflation, he dodged the question and suggested that the government was helping schools by giving them advice for managing their energy bills. Responses like this show how far detached the government are from schools and teachers in Bath and across the country, and the impact that their decisions have on our young people. I will continue to fight for fair funding for all Bath schools.”