Unions warn Sheffield schools could lose £27.2m in funding

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Schools in Sheffield are facing having their budgets cut by more than £27m, unions have claimed.

The proposed new national funding formula, being introduced from 2018 to 2019, will see the city lose an average of £395 per pupil - the equivalent to 731 teachers, according to teaching unions.

The Department of Education is making changes to the way it funds schools to try and close the gap between different geographical areas, with some schools expected to receive more funding.

However analysis by teachers’ unions’ published as part of the national funding formula consultation, indicates 98 per cent of schools will face cuts in per pupil funding.

An alarming £27.2m may be cut from budgets of Sheffield schools by 2019, with headteachers expressing their concerns at how they can improve with declining funds.

Some have warned that they may be forced to reduce staff hours or even cut jobs to help balance the books.

An inquiry by the Public Accounts Committee highlights that schools across England had to find ‘efficiencies’’ to save £1.1bn in 2016-17, and will have to save a further £3bn up to 2019-20.

Headteacher at Waterthorpe Nursery Infant School, Helen Stokes, said spending at the school had already been cut to the 'bare minimum' and further cuts were 'extremely unjust'.

She said her school is set to lose a further £72,000 in funding over the next five years.

Cathy Rowland, headteacher at Dobcroft Infant School, in Millhouses, has written to parents warning them the school, like many, faces a 'bleak financial future'.

The school has already reduced hours for teaching assistants and she warned there may have to be further staff cuts.

She wrote: "The future is potentially a bleak choice between making significant reductions in staff or an untenable deficit.

Angela Smith, MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, said: "In principle, it makes perfect sense to standardize the basic funding each school receives per pupil and end the so-called ‘postcode lottery’ of school budgets."

But she added: "Ultimately, whilst it is important that funding apportioned to schools is distributed in a more uniform way, school funding will only be truly fair when they are provided with enough money to properly fund the incredibly important role they undertake.

"That is why I am calling for increased investment in education for the benefit of all our futures.”

Unions claim schools in Doncaster could lose £16m - £406 per pupil, schools in Rotherham could lose £19.2m - £511 per pupil and £9m - £12 per pupil - could be taken from Barnsley school budgets.

A DfE spokesman said school funding was at its highest level on record, at more than £40bn in 2016-17.

He added: "But the system for distributing that funding across the country is unfair, opaque and outdated.

“We are going to end the historic post code lottery in school funding and under the proposed national schools funding formula, more than half of England’s schools will receive a cash boost. Significant protections have also been built into the formula so that no school will face a reduction of more than more than 1.5 per cent per pupil per year or three per cent per pupil overall.

“We recognise that schools are facing cost pressures, which is why we will continue to provide support to help them use their funding in cost effective ways, including improving the way they buy goods and services so they get the best possible value.”

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