A group of under-funded schools have taken their ‘David and Goliath’ fight for finance to Downing Street – so they can stay open five days a week.
Campaign group WorthLess? are looking for £20 million in transitional funding for West Sussex’s schools for the upcoming financial year after budget cuts left the county short for cash.
Led by Jules White, headteacher of Tanbridge House School in Horsham, students from West Sussex primary, secondary and special schools visited Downing Street on October 18 to deliver a letter to Theresa May.
Jules said: “Long before the national curriculum was a well worn educational policy, the story of David and Goliath was taught to children up and down the country.
“Adults of that vintage will remember how the boy king to be – David – slew the mighty warrior – Goliath – against all the odds.
“In helping to co-ordinate the Worth Less? campaign on behalf of school children, their families and schools across our county, the story that I enjoyed so much as a child has taken on renewed meaning and importance.
“Never more so, than when I joined heads, parents and pupils from Years 1 to 12 and travelled to the mighty pillars of Downing Street in order to make our case for desperately needed interim funding.
“We hope that this should tide us over until the delayed new school funding formula begins to take effect in 18 months time.
“The chances of success, as we faced the imposing buildings of government, seemed challenging and daunting to say the least.”
Head teachers from more than 250 schools across West Sussex claim that funding shortfalls could lead to cuts to services including reducing school hours, bigger class sizes, not replacing staff and making teachers redundant.
The schools say they receive £1,800 less in per pupil funding than schools in inner London, and are asking the government to spare an extra £200 per West Sussex student.
Jules added: “We cannot deliver a sustained ‘good education’ without the basic funding (and teacher supply) to enable us to deliver high quality provision to every child child in our care.
“To be clear then, we feel that if £500million was available for a wholesale academy programme – that has now been scrapped – then there must be funds available for West Sussex school children.
“Further, if each London borough was to have its per pupil funding reduced by just £200 per child (from £6,000 to £5,800) tens of millions would be raised.
“The money could go to West Sussex and other low-funded areas without any impact on the national debt.
“Incidentally, our pupils would still be funded way below even the national average of £4,600 per child.
“If the will is there, the solutions don’t seem that hard to find.”