A government minster has been criticised for failing to heed urgent calls to improve funding for Sheffield’s schools.
Over 8,000 people have already backed The Star’s petition calling on the government to redress funding cuts to the city’s schools as they struggle to balance the books.
It was hoped The Government’s new national funding formula - aimed at redistributing funding to historically underfunded areas – would help to improve the situation.
But Sheffield City Council’s cabinet member for Education and Skills, Jayne Dunn, has warned that any apparent positives from the new formula will be completely negated by the ‘appalling continuation’ of cuts to the city’s schools.
Coun Dunn wrote to Minister of State for School Standards, Nick Gibb MP, urging him to reconsider the funding plans and redress the balance last month.
Mr Gibb has now replied, refusing calls for a meeting, and insisting The Government is pleased with the ‘significant progress made across the system in moving towards the national funding formula in its first year’.
“Schools are already benefiting from the gains delivered by the formula, which has allocated an increase in per pupil funding for every school in 2018-19, with up to three per cent increases for underfunded schools,” said Mr Gibb.
Mr Gibb’s response has been met with criticism from Coun Dunn.
“This is unacceptable and means children who currently rely on special education and disability services are missing out. This is why the whole of Sheffield’s education community and The Star have come together, but it is immensely frustrating that ministers have ignored our offer to meet out of hand,” said Coun Dunn, adding: “It is hugely disappointing that this government continue to misunderstand the scale of Sheffield's school funding crisis.
"Sheffield’s schools are pulling out all the stops to give our kids the future they deserve but £2 .7 billion has been cut from school budgets since 2010. These cuts have created a teacher recruitment crisis, forced teachers to leave the profession in record numbers, sent class sizes soaring, and driven teachers to fundraise at the school gate.
"The government’s own figures state the Council should be getting £7 million more for SEND provision and £20 million more for school budgets, but this crucial funding is not expected for at least another two years.”
To sign The Star’s petition, click here.