Cross party support for call for fairer funding in Sheffield's schools

Councillor Jayne Dunn with Councillors Jack Scott and Mazhur Iqbal.
Councillor Jayne Dunn with Councillors Jack Scott and Mazhur Iqbal.
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Leaders of all parties at Sheffield City Council have backed a motion calling on the Government to redress the balance on how the city’s schools are funded.

Councillor Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for education and skills on the authority, set out the motion at the authority’s full council meeting on Wednesday, July 4.

The motion states that “due to eight years of prolonged and unnecessary austerity, funding for the education system is no longer sufficient and Sheffield schools are disproportionality bearing the brunt of this.”

It continues: “Whilst the Government are finally providing an increase in much needed funding, the combination of eight years of standstill budgets and decisions around national insurance, funding of pay increases, etc. mean that schools have seen their budgets cut by an incredible 30 per cent or more in real terms over this period.”

Speaking at the meeting Coun Dunn said: “We have to invest in schools so teachers can do their jobs. Parents need to have confidence that their children are having a good education and not whether there’s a shortage of pencils or toilet paper.”

Councillor Mike Drabble, who seconded the motion, added: “Class sizes will rise, additional support will decline,and extra curricular activities will disappear. And it is those on the margins who will suffer the most.”

The motion states that it would cost £5.66 billion nationally to redress the cuts that have taken place, and that the council is “working closely with representatives, parents, teachers and unions from across Sheffield’s schools and together a united and strong opposition to the changes has emerged.”

Last month Coun Dunn wrote to the Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds MP, calling for a fairer deal for Sheffield’s schools.

Making his maiden speech in the council chamber, Liberal Democrat Mohammed Mahroof said: “I’m appalled at what’s going on with the finances of Sheffield’s schools. What have our children done to deserve this. We need to stand up for the rights of our children now.”

Green Party Councillor Alison Teale urged the council not to let any more schools slip out of local authority by becoming academies.

She said: “There are many schools still in local authority control and we need to keep them in local authority control. Once a school becomes an academy we lose a huge amount of influence, but we also lose a huge amount of information.

The news comes after the Sheffield Star’s #FairFundSheffieldSchools petition reached 3,000 signatures, and Sheffield MP Gill Furniss pledged her support to the campaign.

The motion was carried unanimously at the meeting at Sheffield Town Hall.