Sheffield MP tackles Education Secretary on threat to sixth-formers

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A ROW over funding cuts at Sheffield’s traditional sixth form schools has been taken to the Houses of Parliament by city MP Paul Blomfield.

The Sheffield Central MP challenged Education Secretary Michael Gove about plans to slash budgets at seven schools by 20 per cent over the next three years.

Headteachers at Tapton, King Ecgbert, Silverdale, King Edward VII, Notre Dame, High Storrs and All Saints have written to parents urging them to lobby Mr Gove and their local MPs.

They fear the cutbacks will result in fewer A-level courses being offered, while class sizes will increase and students will have reduced contact time with staff.

Ministers are planning to fund schools in future in the same way as they provide income for further education and sixth form colleges.

Currently, schools receive an extra £280 per pupil compared with, for example, Sheffield College.

Nationally, the cut to school sixth form funding is estimated to be around £120 million.

The heads say this will result in a 20 per cent cut over the next three financial years - with reductions to their schools ranging from £120,000 to £457,000.

Mr Blomfield said the heads’ move was unprecedented and reflected the levels of concern.

He said: “They have made it clear that they have never been subject to cuts of this magnitude, and yet the Government claim to be protecting school spending. I’m now writing to Mr Gove to see if he understands the impact of his decisions.”

In parliament Mr Gove said reductions in public spending were a direct consequence of mistakes that had been made by the previous Government.

And a spokesman for the Department for Education added: “The current funding system is unfair and has many anomalies.

“The Government has made it clear that its longer term aim is to bring in a simpler, more transparent and fairer funding system.”

But David Bowes, head at Tapton, said his school’s losses would be around £450,000.

“This will cut the number of courses we can offer and the number of students we can admit.

“Like every school we are also planning for budget cuts arising from inflation and increased pension and national insurance contributions.”

Mr Bowes said the sixth form funding cuts had directly influenced the school’s move to seek to become an Academy, opting out of local authority control.

The heads’ letter stressed the problem was with the Government and not city council.