SCHOOL FUNDING CRISIS: Sheffield MPs back campaign to fight for fairer funding for cash strapped schools
All six of Sheffield MPs have backed The Star's campaign and vowed to fight for fairer funding amid a crisis in city schools.
MPs have pledged to take the fight to Parliament and have hit out at the Government's plans to invest £50 million into expanding grammar schools instead of tackling the funding crisis.
The Star revealed that Sheffield is the worst funded out of all the major cities in England and headteachers have warned of mass redundancies as they struggle to keep schools operating to their current standards.
The Department for Education said that schools in the area will attract an increase in funding of 6.6 per cent – equivalent to £20.4 million – when its new national funding formula NFF is implemented in full by 2020/21.
Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said: “Ministers have acknowledged schools are struggling because of their decisions on funding.
"Instead of tackling the crisis, they’re putting £50 million into Theresa May’s obsession with setting up new grammar schools.
"They must think again about their priorities, review the formula that leaves Sheffield behind comparable areas and shifts money away from primary schools, and address the underfunding of special educational needs and disabilities, which is limiting schools’ ability to support some of our most vulnerable children."
Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith said the Government should recognise the needs of all pupils 'no matter wherebouts they live' and vowed to make the case for more funding at 'every opportunity'.
"It cannot be right that some primary schools in my constituency are having to look at making teacher’s redundant because of this funding crisis caused by the unfair allocations of funding by this Tory Government.
"Given the funding crisis affecting schools in my area it is quite unbelievable that at the drop of an hat the government can seem to find extra resources for Grammar Schools, a pet project of the Prime Minister.
"While I would not wish to take money away from any school it would be nice if children in my constituency were treated the same as those going to grammar schools though.”
Hillsborough and Brightside MP Gill Furniss welcomed the campaign.
‘’These cuts have wide-ranging impacts on the schools and the wider community, from a loss of teaching staff to cuts in enrichment activities, such as out-of-hours clubs and initiatives to broaden horizons as well as decreasing support for those students needing specialist attention.’
‘’Beyond that, these cuts entrench the wider inequalities plaguing our country. Under the Tories, where you are born determines your life chances.’’
Sheffield Heely MP Louise Haigh said: "I’ve spoken to headteachers at schools across Sheffield Heeley and have heard some really worrying stories about teachers having to bring in their own stationery, of going without basic necessities like school books and of school councils coming up with fundraising ideas to cover essentials that no child should be worrying about in the sixth richest country in the world.
“Schools have already cut back everything they’re able to; the vast majority of their budgets are staff and so cuts to schools means only one thing – we’ll lose dedicated teachers and teaching assistants.
“If Sheffield already lags behind the other major cities then further budget cuts make even less sense – it makes it so much harder to improve our economy and our city’s low wages if we can’t provide children with the best education they can receive.”
Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O’Mara said: "The Government is not investing sufficiently in our children’s education and as a result I believe that many schools are now faced with having to cut staff to make ends meet.
"The Government’s new NFF is not equal to all schools with some losing out more than others financially.
"In addition, I am also very worried about the impact of cuts upon those children who have special educational needs.
"Constituents have come to see me at my surgery and have told me of the problems they are facing due to lack of resources.
"Local authorities play a vital role in supporting schools and I believe that children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are paying the price for funding cuts as the government starves local councils of the resources they need.
"It is time that the Government recognised the importance of investing in the education of our children for generations to come.”
Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts said he would be lobbying the Government for a fairer deal.
He said: "Headteachers are talking specifically about how they are going to cope. Already heads have said they don't know what they are going to do.
"They already can't recruit and they are talking about sacking teachers.
"We have one opportunity to give our kids a good education and it's no use in saying it will get better in four to five years time because these kids will have moved through education and lost their chance."
Announcing the grammar school funding, education secretary Damian Hinds said hundreds of thousands of new places have been created since 2010, but the Government wants to 'make sure every family can access a good school'.
"By creating new schools where they are needed most and helping all great schools to grow, we can give parents greater choice in looking at schools that are right for their family - and give children of all backgrounds access to a world-class education," he said.