School grapples with funding cuts and young pupils’ mental health issues

A Sheffield primary school is helping young children with mental health problems while struggling with serious cuts to its funding.

By Lucy Ashton
Thursday, 25 April, 2019, 08:47
Shortbrook School

The plight of Shortbrook primary school at Westfield was highlighted by local councillor David Barker, who is also a governor at the school.

He said it was “shameful” that the school was trying to cope with a £132,000 shortfall in its budget while supporting children through family problems.

“I am a governor at a school in the heart of a great community but a community with real challenges,” he told a council meeting.

“Sadly all there is locally to help meet those challenges is a part time youth club, a food bank and the school.

“If anyone thinks infant schools are just about getting kids through Sats, we regularly do children and mental health studies at our school and this is what some of the infant kids said about their lives –

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“I feel sad at home; I can’t sleep and my sister has autism; I feel sad because dad doesn’t live with my anymore; I can’t sleep because of everything going through my mind; I’m worried about my dad, he said things about my grandad and I have horrible dreams.”

The school was rated “good” in an Ofsted inspection last summer and was close to outstanding in many areas.

Coun Barker added: “Oftsed said ‘pupils face significant difficulties in their lives but with the school’s help they are successful in overcoming those barriers to make good progress. Pupils who have identified behaviour difficulties develop successful ways of improving their behaviour.’

“The outcome of Government policies is that school, which is so important and does so much for its community over and above education, is looking at a deficit budget of £137,000 and is having to ask serious questions about it’s long term future. That is shameful.”

His comments came during a debate on fairer funding for Sheffield schools at full council.