Lib Dem politicians vow to help in fight for fairer school funding in Sheffield
Politicians have pledged to do whatever they can to help Sheffield schools amid a funding crisis across the city.
Liberal Democrat members have vowed to bring the issue to the forefront of the political agenda after headteachers warned they may have to make mass redundancies, increase class sizes and cut the school week because of budget pressures.
The Government's new national funding formula - aimed at redistributing funding to historically underfunded areas - helps the situation, but Sheffield does not get a fair deal quickly enough and headteachers are struggling to balance the books.
The Star has launched a campaign calling on the Government to redress the issue, bringing together Sheffield Council, Learn Sheffield, the city’s MPs, businesses, schools, community groups and residents to fight for fair funding.
Leader of the Sheffield Liberal Democrats, Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, said: "Where you are born shouldn’t dictate what you achieve in life.
"But with funding for schools in Sheffield far below what it is in comparison to other major UK cities, where you are born could be the biggest influence on your achievements in life. It shouldn’t be that way.
"That’s why I am pleased to support the Fair Fund Sheffield Schools campaign supported by The Star and Sheffield Telegraph.
"If you work hard, you should be able to achieve whatever you want. But here in Sheffield, it’s not that easy.
"Even a headteacher of one of our city’s schools has warned it may have to cut its teaching week down to four-and-a-half days.
"As someone who has worked with our city’s young people for over 20 years as a youth worker, I know first hand the struggles that children within our city face.
"I feel every cut that the current Government makes to our city’s education – with each cut adding further disadvantage to our city’s young people.
"We need to be building ladders of opportunity for our youngsters.
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"As the leader of the opposition on Sheffield Council, I will do whatever I can to bring this issue to the forefront and I am happy to work alongside others within our city to champion children’s education.
"I have signed the Fair Fund Sheffield Schools petition and I urge everyone to do the same."
Laura Gordon, Lib Dem candidate for Sheffield Hallam, said she will bring up the issue with Layla Moran MP, the party's lead on education, to see what national opportunities there are for getting a fairer deal.
She has met with local headteachers to discuss their concerns.
She said: "It's simply unacceptable that Sheffield's children have missed out as a result of the systematic underfunding of our schools.
"Schools in Sheffield Hallam are dealing with leaking roofs and windows and are having to consider extreme measures like cutting hours to four-and-a-half days days per week. This shouldn't happen in the 21st century - our children deserve better.
"The new national funding formula is a welcome start, but the government needs to go further to address the effects of years of underfunding.
"Our children shouldn't have to wait years for a fair deal. We are calling on the government to increase funding to bring our schools up to parity straight away."
The Department for Education said the NFF is intended to correct historic disparities in the system, which involves redistributing funding to underfunded areas.
A spokesman said schools in the area would receive an increase in funding of 6.6 per cent - equivalent to Â£20.4 million - when the NFF is implemented in full by 2020/21.