The headteacher of St Martin’s School is the latest Essex school leader to highlight the effect that school budget cuts are having on his school. Mike O’Sullivan is reported as having written to the town’s MP, Sir Eric Pickles, in common with his colleagues across the county to spell out what declining budgets mean in real terms and asking him to back the Association of Secondary Headteachers in Essex (ASHE) “Fund the 8%” campaign.
He reports that “every piece of low hanging fruit has been cut from the tree” and warns of the very real consequences of further cuts including “turning off the heating”.
He explains, “I know these are austere times, but as I said to Sir Eric the last time I met him, education is not an expense, it is an investment and we have got to find the money to fund schools. At the moment that is not happening.”
Every secondary headteacher has written to the parents in their school outlining the campaign and the probable consequences of falling budgets for the provision of education to their children. They have appealed for parents to write to their MP in support of the campaign as they are aware that wider support is essential to achieving any improvement in current and projected school funding.
Educating Brentwood acknowledge that this is not always as easy as it sounds for those with limited time so we have decided to share a letter prepared for sending to our local MP in the hope that others can use it as a template to raise their concerns should they wish to do so. We would also stress that this action should not be limited to parents as education cuts have implications for the future of us all. Those who wish to show their support can also write to MPs in support of their local school. To that end, we have provided an alternative third paragraph should you wish to use that.
Dear Sir Eric Pickles,
As a long standing supporter of our local schools, I know that you will have been disturbed by the concerns raised by our headteachers about the effects that declining school budgets are having on education provision to our children.
While the proposed National Funding Formula (NFF) is an honest attempt to address unfairness in the current funding system, it will not bridge the growing funding gap schools are experiencing. The government pledged to protect the schools budget as part of its election manifesto but, while this may have been done in flat cash terms, it has not taken into account rising pupil numbers, cuts to the Educational Service Grant and increasing National insurance and pension contributions. The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) calculates that this amounts to a real terms cut of 8% in school budgets as outlined here: https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/8027
Our headteacher has outlined in a letter to parents that staffing levels are likely to be reduced, class sizes increased, pastoral provision reduced and the curricula choices for our children further restricted as a consequence. As a parent of children in two local schools, I am dismayed that they will be denied the educational opportunities provided to past cohorts unless this funding gap is addressed.
As the government’s manifesto testified, education funding is an investment in our children’s future but also that of the country as a whole. Please can I therefore ask you to urge the government to honour their pledge in real terms and to support the Essex headteachers “Fund the 8%” campaign as outlined here: http://ashe-essex.org/fund-the-8/
Alternative paragraph 3 for non-parents:
Our local headteacher has outlined in a letter to parents that staffing levels are likely to be reduced, class sizes increased, pastoral provision reduced and the curricula choices for our children further restricted as a consequence. As a local resident concerned that our children receive due support to maximise their potential, I am dismayed that they will be denied the educational opportunities provided to past cohorts unless this funding gap is addressed.
If you can support this campaign, please share your concerns with your local MP and if you live in Essex, ask them to support the “Fund the 8%” campaign. As the national press are now highlighting, this is a national issue, so those outside the county are encouraged to contact their MPs in support of their local schools too.
MP email addresses are listed here:
Brentwood and Ongar residents can contact their MP at:
or on Twitter at @ericpickles using hashtag #schoolsjustwannahavefunds
Finally, we would like to draw your attention to a national petition that has been set up by the group “Fair Funding For All” which is campaigning nationally on the same topic. Please register your concern here too if you feel inclined: