SCHOOL FUNDING CRISIS: Union leaders hit out at grammar school cash amid crisis in Sheffield schools

There is a growing funding crisis in schools across Sheffield
There is a growing funding crisis in schools across Sheffield
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Union leaders have criticised Government plans to hand grammar schools tens of millions of pounds to allow them to expand amid a growing funding crisis in Sheffield.

Under controversial new plans, £50 million is to be pumped into creating more places at selective state schools - a move that ministers said will give parents more choice.

Union leaders have hit out at plans unveiled by the Government for grammar schools

Union leaders have hit out at plans unveiled by the Government for grammar schools

But school leaders criticised the decision, saying they were 'disappointed' that the Government was spending 'scarce funding' on expanding grammars.

The Star revealed this week that Sheffield schools are the worst funded out of all the major cities in England and headteachers are warning of mass redundancies and a struggle to maintain schools as the Government's new national funding formula is introduced.

READ MORE: Why have Grammar Schools been handed £50m and what are they going to do with the cash?

The Department for Education said the NFF is aimed at correcting historical disparities in the funding system and that schools in the area will attract an increase in funding of 6.6 per cent – equivalent to £20.4 million – when the NFF is implemented in full by 2020/21.

There are 163 grammar schools in England and, if all were given an equal share of the £50 million pot - which will be available in the 2018/19 academic year- , they would receive just over £300,000 each.

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.

Nick Brook, deputy general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "The Government cannot point to a single piece of evidence that shows strong educational benefit of this misguided policy.

READ MORE: REVEALED: Sheffield schools are among the worst funded in England
"While it may benefit a small minority, it will not close the gap between rich and poor pupils and if anything will increase the divide.

"School budgets are at breaking point.

"The state-funded school system is rapidly heading towards insolvency.

"To pursue such an elitist policy as expanding grammars at a time of crisis is a distraction at best.

"This money should be spent for the benefit of all children, not just the tiny number who attend grammar schools."

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "We are disappointed that the government has decided to spend scarce funding on expanding grammar schools.

READ MORE: SCHOOL FUNDING CRISIS: Headteachers warn of mass redundancies at cash strapped Sheffield schools
"While there are many good selective schools, just as there are many good non-selective schools, the evidence is clear that expanding the number of selective places is likely to be damaging to social mobility."

He added: "High-ability students do just as well in good non-selective schools as they do in good grammar schools, and funding is therefore better spent on creating places in the former rather than the latter.

"This is important at any time but particularly so when funding is very tight as a result of government under-investment in the education system."