HEAD TEACHERS have dismissed additional school funding received from the government as “simply not good enough”.
Inequalities in the education funding system have seen West Sussex floundering near the bottom of the cash pile, with lack of money leaving schools unable to hire specialist teachers or buy basic equipment such as books and pens.
Following concerted efforts from every primary, secondary and special school head in the county – all of whom signed their names to the Worth Less? campaign for fairer funding – the government provided an additional £930,000 interim payment to help them make ends meet, before a new system is introduced in 2017.
Spread between every school in the county, the money amounted to less than £10 per pupil – or the cost of a cinema ticket – and left head teachers asking why West Sussex children were judged to be worth so little.
In a letter to parents, a campaign spokesman said: “Bearing in mind that our children are funded 10 per cent less than the national average, this is simply not good enough and
children’s education across West Sussex will suffer as a result.”
The head teachers are campaigning for £200 per pupil – a total of £20million – from April until the new funding system is in place.
While that may seem like a high figure, it would still leave West Sussex receiving £200 per pupil less than the national average.
The average funding per school currently stands at £4,612 per pupil – but West Sussex receives only £4,198 per pupil. If the county was funded at the average, it would receive an extra £41million per year – a figure which left head teachers dreaming about what their schools could have done with the money.
In London, where teachers are paid more, the average figure per pupil is well in excess of £6,000 – which would a difference which would have meant an extra £212million per year to West Sussex.
Lawrence Caughlin, head teacher at Swiss Gardens Primary School in Swiss gardens, Shoreham, said: “To say the figure being offered is paltry is a gross understatement. This is about the ability of schools across the county to provide children with the individual help, support and
teaching they deserve to ensure each reaches their potential.
“It is about the compromises we constantly have to make as head teachers. We always go for support for children if we have any money and as a consequence our aged building is creaking, to say the least.
“We never have spare money to address developmental building issues which would provide 21st century learning environments.
“Schools are being asked to take on more all the time with what amounts to, in real terms, fewer resources.”
Mr Caughlin recognised the support offered by Tim Loughton and his fellow West Sussex MPs but expressed doubt about how successful that support would be.
He said: “One parent told me today she had met with the MP who did not seem overly positive, despite apparently backing the campaign.”
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