Sheffield headteacher calls on education secretary to help avert education ‘crisis’ ahead of Parliament visit

A Sheffield headteacher has written to the education secretary calling on him to provide fairer funding for school’s and avert an education ‘crisis’ ahead of a visit to Parliament to lobby MP’s.

Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 10:05 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 10:08 am
Watercliffe Meadow Primary School, Shirecliffe

Ian Read, headteacher of Watercliffe Meadow Primary School in Shirecliffe, wrote the letter to Damian Hinds MP after being forced to make staff redundancies in order to save £125,000 over the next two years.  

Mr Read called for a ‘significant shift’ in how education is valued and supported by the government, not only in Sheffield but across the country and expressed his concerns about the funding crisis faced by schools.

Watercliffe Meadow Primary School, Shirecliffe

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In the letter Mr Read detailed the situation faced by his school, which by Easter will be losing or will have lost one teacher, four teaching assistants, one learning mentor and one caretaker – 10 per cent of its full time equivalent workforce. 

He blamed a ‘perfect storm’ of factors, including a new curriculum, a school budget cut of around eight per cent since 2010 and a reduction in services available from Local Authorities and other agencies for the current situation.

The letter states: “Teaching and working in education for many is a vocation, I do it because I believe in what we are doing and I know we are making a difference to the life chances of children and families.

Learn Sheffield chief executive Stephen Betts supporting the Fair Fund Sheffield Schools Campaign

“I can’t walk away as this would leave my school community in an even more untenable position. I am left with an impossible decision.

“The solution to this impossible decision I and many other headteachers face up and down the country to me seems surprisingly simple, although I know to reach the solution will not be straightforward. However, in order for to change the circumstances outlined, two things need to happen.

“1. There is a substantial investment of at least £3 billion in education (this is the figure quoted by the IFS that would keep school budgets in line with the increased costs to schools since 2010).

 “2. The Department for Education work with school bodies and Ofsted to devise an accountability framework that incentivises inclusion, pupil well-being and values the development of a wide range of skills and qualities that will provide opportunities for all pupils to become successful citizens who can make positive contributions to society.”

In October, education watchdog Ofsted announced a new inspection framework that will see a higher importance when assessing whether schools are offering a ‘broad, rich and deep' curriculum, something Mr Read said is a step in the right direction. 

The letter added: “For too long now we have been pushed down a narrow path, being beaten from behind with a stick and without a carrot in sight.” 

Mr Read is now planning an event in Sheffield city centre on March 18 to raise public awareness.

He will then visit Parliament on March 19, along with fellow headteachers, to lobby MP’s.

School leaders are also being encouraged to share their stories and write letters of support to be delivered on the day. 

Last year, The Star and Sheffield Telegraph launched a petition calling on the Government to fair fund Sheffield schools.

More than 8,000 people have already signed to add your signature click here.