Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi criticised for visiting Sheffield while ignoring pleas for school funding

Sheffield’s education chief says she is furious after the Secretary of State visited the city while ignoring all her letters about cash-strapped schools.

Thursday, 17th March 2022, 12:50 pm

Coun Jayne Dunn, Executive member for education, was left fuming after Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi addressed students at Sheffield Park Academy.

Coun Dunn has repeatedly contacted Mr Zahawi about the serious lack of funding for schools in the city, which is especially impacting on pupils with special needs and disabilities.

In the past, she has written to the Government over the “enormous financial difficulties” facing mainstream Sheffield schools.

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Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has been criticised by Coun Jayne Dunn for visiting Sheffield while ignoring her letters about cash-strapped schools

Sheffield also lags behind other core cities in funding for SEND pupils. While Newcastle gets £693 funding per pupil and Manchester gets £657, Sheffield only receives £510.

Her comments came as councillors agreed to expand Silverdale and King Ecbert secondary schools and cover a shortfall in government funding for the building projects. The council is also investing in creating more SEND places.

‘I’m extremely angry’

Coun Dunn said: “I want to thank the education team for all the work done because it certainly has been a challenge.

“The investment of £7.7million with another £1m into integrated resources really shows this council’s commitment, we haven’t hesitated.

“I’m deeply disappointed that the government has not done exactly this. They haven’t responded to our letters to our emails.

“And I’m really disappointed that the Secretary of State came to Sheffield last week and didn’t bother to come and see what he could have done in the city.

“I have been writing and he’s ignored every single letter. I’m extremely angry about that because he’s letting down every single child and family in the city.

“The Government had passed the financial buck on to schools and it’s not something that they should have to deal with.”

Coun Cate McDonald, Executive member for finance, agreed. “Just to make absolutely clear, I said it before and it will keep on saying it, the Government is not adequately funding our school system at the moment.

“It’s up to us, we’ve had to fill that gap and everybody knows how stretched our finances are.

“This indicates a complete and total commitment from the council to making sure our children have the best education.”