Community unites to fight 'disgraceful' school cuts in one of Sheffield's most deprived areas

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Parents, children and councillors have joined forces to fight education cuts which they claim will 'decimate' the lives of youngsters living in one of Sheffield's most deprived areas.

Protests have taken place outside Arbourthorne Community Primary in an attempt to persuade the Government to rethink its national funding formula.

The Department of Education is making changes to the way it funds schools to try and close the gap between different geographical areas, with some schools expected to receive more funding.

But analysis by teaching unions indicates 98 per cent of schools will face cuts in per pupil funding as inflation and school costs increase at the same time that funding per pupil is frozen.

Campaigners in Arbourthorne claim the three local schools - Arbourthorne Community Primary, Norfolk Primary and Sheffield Springs Academy - look set to have £440,917 stripped from their budgets, the equivalent of 11 teachers.

They say the cuts will decimate the life chances of youngsters living on the estate and have gone door-to-door with a petition to reverse the cuts.

Local Labour councillor Ben Miskell, who is also a secondary school teacher, said: "Children in Arbourthorne need a leg up in life, not increased class sizes and fewer teachers.

"This government must stop its ideological attack on the most vulnerable in society and roll back it’s savage austerity programme."

He added: "I represent one of the most deprived wards in the country and our schools provide a safe haven and a route towards a better life.

"It’s a disgrace that youngsters face such huge cuts to their amazing schools."

Toby Mallinson, divisional secretary of Sheffield National Union of Teachers, which is supporting the action said: ‘It’s clear that schools across the city are struggling to deal with savage funding cuts and things look set to get worse unless the government changes course.

"We are already starting to see an increase in redundancies, particularly against teaching assistants that do such a vital job in our schools."

Last week education secretary Justine Greening announced that the overall core schools budget will rise by £1.3bn between 2017-18 and 2019-20.

All schools will receive at least an increase of 0.5 per cent in cash terms.

She also confirmed plans to introduce a national funding formula, aiming to ensure money is distributed more fairly across the country, from 2018/19.

Details of an updated version of the formula, with budgets for individual schools, are being promised for the autumn.