Schools will not get extra money to tackle shortfall

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West Sussex schools will not be given any extra money to help them make ends meet.

Headteachers, who had fought for an extra £200 per child from the government before the introduction of a new funding system in 2017, described the news as “extremely disappointing”.

The county currently receives £41million per year less in education funding than the national average, which amounts to a shortfall of around £400 per pupil.

Last year, every headteacher in the county signed their names to the Worth Less? campaign, calling for a fairer system of funding; and, while the government held a consultation into just that, the request for interim funding to help schools balance their budgets in the meantime was refused.

Michael Ferry, headteacher at St Wilfrid’s School, in Crawley, said: “To say it is unhelpful is putting it mildly.

“As schools in our neighbouring local authority areas continue to receive more funding per student than us, we will again have to perform in an educational environment which is far from fair and one which will expect us to raise standards and deliver on results despite the lack of funding.

“To paraphrase Mother Theresa, ‘we have done so much with so little, for so long, we will soon be qualified to do anything with nothing’.”

A letter from the Worth Less? campaign was sent to parents and stated: “Heads and principals across the county are very frustrated that pupils in our care will not receive the fair and crucial extra funding during the current academic year.

“As we have previously stated, this will have negative consequences in terms of staffing and resources.”

The average countrywide funding per school currently stands at £4,612 per pupil – but West Sussex, as one of the worst-funded, only receives £4,198 per pupil.

Following pressure from schools and MPs, the government did give an additional £930,000 to the county – but that was worth just £10 per pupil and was dismissed as “a pittance” by headteachers.

Mr Ferry added: “We can only hope now that the consultation on fairer funding has closed, that those in office can speed up the process, ensuring that what is ultimately delivered is exactly that, fairer funding and sooner rather than later as the current situation is not sustainable either now nor in the longer term.”

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