Children across Yorkshire will suffer as a result of “indefensible” real-terms cuts to schools as the region prepares to be hit by an education funding crisis, MPs have warned.
Yorkshire’s schools face having more than £300m slashed from their budgets because of a proposed shake-up of the national funding formula.
But MPs in some of the hardest-hit parts of Yorkshire say attempts to boost spending in underfunded areas will be hindered by higher pension costs, rising wages and national insurance contributions.
They are now urging the Government to re-think its plans after being inundated by letters and phone calls from concerned headteachers, who say they will be forced into making dramatic cutbacks to deal with the real-term cuts.
Conservative MP for Shipley Philip Davies said the formula would just plough money from struggling areas into higher performing parts of the country, which would have a major impact on Bradford, which is set to be the worst affected in Yorkshire.
He said: “The Government would argue that it’s not about funding cuts to schools, it’s about changing the formula... The argument is that for years schools in rural areas have been underfunded at the expense of more urban areas.
“I have made the Government aware of the fact I won’t be supporting it. As far as I’m concerned they are going to have to abandon this. I can’t believe I’m alone on this on the Conservative bench. I literally cannot see this happening.
“As far as I’m concerned it’s unjustifiable. If you look at the league tables Bradford is nearer the bottom, so it seems bizarre to take money from schools near the bottom of the education league table and give money those nearer the top. Why on earth would you want to do that?
“It’s like throwing apples into orchards that are already full.”
Clive Betts, the Labour MP for Sheffield South, has written to Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for Education, challenging her proposals for school funding, which mean that schools in the city could be almost £27m worse off by 2019, according to education unions.
He said: “The Government is cutting the budget nationally and then trying to switch around what money goes to which schools. It’s appalling what is happening.
“Ministers have got to re-think the whole thing. In the end these children will just get one chance at education and we are affecting their life choices and their future if we don’t do our best for them at school. The Government is not doing its best for our children.
“I’ve had no response yet from Justine Greening but I’m going to push for that.
“Today I will be writing to every head and every chair of governors saying have you have a chance to look at the impact on your school and would you like to tell me in detail about it.”
Labour MP for Batley and Spen Tracy Brabin described the proposals as “outrageous” and said the young people in her constituency and Kirklees “deserve better”.
She said: “This new funding formula is anything but fair. Once again it is our children who are set to lose out and the Government needs to urgently rethink.
“I’m speaking to headteachers and they tell me it’s getting harder to deliver high-quality education under increasing financial strain, I’ve already heard that teachers are leaving without being replaced and the number of teaching assistants dropping even before this new funding formula bites.
“Over the next few weeks I hope to work closely with them to ramp up the pressure to on Government to drop these changes.”
How funding will change
The Department for 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.
Under the new formula, schools will receive basic funding per pupil; this will be topped up to account for deprivation and low attainment.
In general, money is being redistributed out of London towards the shires and to coastal areas.
However, analysis by teachers’ unions’ published as part of the national funding formula consultation, indicates 99 per cent of schools will face cuts in per pupil funding.