Schools tell parents to lobby MPs

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HEADTEACHERS at Sheffield’s traditional sixth form schools are calling on their parents to protest to the Government over funding changes which could see them lose more than £450,000 over the next three years.

In an unprecedented move principals at Tapton, King Ecgbert, Silverdale, King Edward VII, Notre Dame, High Storrs and All Saints are urging families to lobby their own MPs and Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Ministers are planning to fund schools in future in the same way 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.

As a result the sixth forms may have to reduce their range of courses, increase class sizes and cut student-teacher contact time.

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 letter stresses the problem is with the Government’s Young People’s Learning Agency not the city council.

It adds: “We will of course use all our expertise and professionalism to ensure teaching and learning of the highest quality is maintained and our students are not placed at a disadvantage by these reductions in our budgets.

“But this is a serious set of circumstances – we have never been subjected to cuts of this magnitude. Our sixth forms are highly effective and our students achieve excellent outcomes, therefore we are very concerned that all this is being put at risk.”

The heads have already had a meeting with Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg but decided to mobilise their parents after failing to receive satisfactory assurances.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “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.”