Parents to march for fairer school funding

Parents and supporters of Shoreham Beach Primary School will be among hundreds expected to take to the streets this weekend to march for fairer education funding.

Led by the West Sussex Save Our Schools campaign, marchers will meet at Steyne Gardens,Worthing, at 2pm on Saturday (April 21), before following a route through the town to the seafront.

Parents and children at Shoreham Beach Primary School

Parents and children at Shoreham Beach Primary School

A banner was unfurled at Shoreham Beach School, in Shingle Road, on Tuesday, detailing the financial pressures faced by schools in West Sussex.

The county remains one of the lowest-funded local authorities in the country for education, despite the introduction of the government’s National Funding Formula. The formula was lauded as being a much fairer way of dividing the country’s education budget but, while more money was put into the system, the government failed to allow for rising costs.

As a result, headteachers warned they actually have less money and will have to make cuts to staffing and the curriculum to make ends meet.

Shoreham Beach parent Roisin Vafaee said: "It's time for us as parents and supporters of schools across the area, across the West Sussex County Council area, to speak up and say it's not acceptable. Our schools need more money from the government in order to educate our children."

There is also concern about the funding of special schools and other high needs services, which were not included in the new formula.

In a recent interview, Phillip Potter, head of Oak Grove College in Worthing, warned his school faced a £220,000 budget shortfall next year despite having already lost six staff to voluntary redundancy.

Campaigner Mel Pickett said: “We hope that parents, grandparents, children and other members of our local community will join us in marching for fair funding and a good education for all our children.

“Our schools are facing a funding crisis and there is no sign that it is being addressed. Funding is at a standstill while costs continue to rise, meaning that the quality of our children’s education is being severely compromised.

“The march is a way for us to peacefully highlight that we care about our children’s future and to campaign for fair funding for West Sussex schools – which currently have one of the lowest education budgets in the country.”

Sarah Maynard, added: “We are seeing the impact of the funding shortfall in our classrooms. Schools are not replacing vital support staff, they are struggling to recruit and keep good teachers and clubs and extra-curricular activities are being cut.

“The result of this is that our kids are not getting the opportunities and quality of education they so rightly deserve.”

West Sussex MPs, including Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) met with Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds on Wednesday (April 18).

Mr Loughton said: "We made the case to the new Secretary of State very clearly. West Sussex has been at the bottom of the funding pile for too many years and we are absolutely seeing the effects of that in our schools and have done over the last year."

Describing the £28m allocated to West Sussex as "really good", he added: "But still the funding formula leaves too great a gap between what our schools get in West Sussex and what many schools get in Metropolitan areas, particularly London.

"We've asked him to look again at how that formula can further be improved to make sure there is not such a gap."

The march will finish at about 3pm on the seafront. For more information, email saveourschoolswestsussex@gmail.com