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MORE than 7,000 headteachers wrote to 3.5 million families to warn of the school funding crisis in England that is resulting in them having to cut resources and staff numbers to the bone.
In the letter, organised by the WorthLess? campaign group, they are said to have made a request for a meeting with Education Secretary Damian Hinds which was rejected.
The Department for Education (DfE) claims that school funding in England was “at its highest ever level.”
Siobhan Lowe, head of Tolworth girls’ school in Surbiton, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that she is “embarassed” that her school does not have enough money.
She has helped clean the school, clean the toilets, serve in the canteen and can no longer afford a deputy headteacher.
Ms Lowe added that supportive parents have helped pay for books and printing materials while others have written to her saying: “I really wish we could help but we’re just about managing.”
She said: “I’ve reduced the number of options that the students have, I’ve increased class sizes, I’ve cut critical services such as student support workers who work with our most vulnerable.”
Students at her school are allocated £10 each per year to buy basic equipment such as books, she said. For science they get £1.50 each per year to buy equipment.
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner told BBC Radio that the impact of funding shortages in schools was “really devastating.”
Ms Rayner said: “Seven thousand headteachers don’t just write a letter, they are not politically active, they are not the kind of workers who will go to the government.
“They are embarrassed about having to say that they can’t afford to provide the services that our children deserve.”
She pointed to the Institute for Fiscal Studies that said schools are seeing their budgets cut by 8 per cent in real terms.
“There is a real crisis in our schools in England and the government are not even prepared to defend their record on this,” she added.
Ms Rayner said Labour would increase funding to schools by an extra £5.6 billion a year by 2022.
Headteachers’ union NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman said: “This feels like a pivotal moment. School budgets are at absolute breaking point.
“Yet the government’s response is one of institutional deafness.”
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