Education leader calls for fairer funding for Sheffield schools

Councillor Dunn is pictured with cabinet members Jack Scott andMazher Iqbal.
Councillor Dunn is pictured with cabinet members Jack Scott andMazher Iqbal.
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Leaders at Sheffield City Council are set to propose 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, will set out the motion at the authority’s next 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.

“The Government have implemented a national funding formula in an attempt to re-address the balance, but in actuality the funding changes will mean that Sheffield schools will be worse off by £12.1m this year and £5.7m next year – a cut equivalent to £170 per pupil in 2018/19 and £80 per pupil in 2019/20.

“Despite the Government’s rhetoric of “fairness”, regional imbalances remain in the current system, for instance, an average sized secondary school in Sheffield would receive £822,000 more each year if it was situated in Manchester.

“There is insufficient funding nationally in the school system and, despite the best efforts of teachers and parents, such inadequate funding will inevitably see the continued depletion of resources from our schools, and shows that not enough is being done to address the historical imbalance in the funding allocation for Sheffield schools.”

The motion adds 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.

She said: “We are going to be working together to tackle the Government over the inequality in the funding of our schools.

“There’s a letter I wrote to Damian Hinds explaining exactly why I need to see him, and why the funding formula is so unfair in Sheffield in particular.

“They work out an average for our city, but we have some very affluent areas and some very poor areas and when when you average it out, Sheffield has always had quite a low base of funding.”

The motion is expected to get cross-party support when it is debated at Sheffield Town Hall tomorrow.

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.

Today (Tuesday, July 3) Councillor Dunn tweeted: “On Wednesday I’m bringing a motion to full council highlighting the unfair funding of our schools in Sheffield . Let’s get every child the education they deserve,” urging residents to sign the petition.