Schools in West Sussex could afford to employ twice as many teachers if they received the same funding as those in London.
Such was the message when 14 secondary headteachers met with education minister Nick Gibb MP at The Weald School, in Billingshurst.
The meeting was organised through the West Sussex Secondary Headteachers’ Association and saw the group discuss issues such as funding and teacher recruitment.
Peter Woodman, association chairman and headteacher at The Weald, said the issues discussed had ‘a significant impact’ on the quality of education on offer in the county.
He added: “West Sussex is the most poorly funded county council out of nearly 160 authorities in the country. This effectively means that our children are worth less here than anywhere else. We were able to put our points directly to the minister to explain the impact that this has in our schools, and will have in the coming years as education funding is not increased.
“The differences in educational funding mean that if the average secondary school in West Sussex were moved to one of the best funded London boroughs, the school could literally afford to employ twice as many teachers.”
Jules White, headteacher at Tanbridge House School, described the meeting with Mr Gibb as ‘very productive’ and questioned whether the Government was prepared to make ‘difficult decisions’ to address the problem.
The heads told Mr Gibb West Sussex schools could not compete salary-wide with better-funded authorities when it came to recruiting and retaining the best teachers.
The issue of teacher numbers was also raised at a full meeting of West Sussex County Council on Friday (October 16). The meeting was told the number of teaching vacancies in the county which had not been filled rose from 11 in 2013 to 39 in 2014. The figures included three posts at secondary schools in 2013 and 16 in 2014.
With a particular shortage of maths and physics teachers, Jeremy Hunt, cabinet member for education and skills, told the meeting initiatives were in place to encourage teachers to train in those subjects. But Mike Glennon (UKIP, Lancing) said the council had a duty to create a better work environment for teachers and remove ‘mindless bureaucracy, crushingly stressful workloads and management intimidation’. He added: “It’s not about training more cannon fodder it’s about creating a better environment.”
The headteachers who attended were:
David Brixey (Angmering School)
Jules White (Tanbridge House)
Michael Ferry (St Wilfrids, Crawley)
Carolyn Dickinson (Worthing High School)
Rose Hetheron (Downlands School)
Yasmin Maskatiya (Chichester High School for Boys, Chichester High School for Girls)
Ann-Marie Latham (Selsey Academy)
Nick Wergan (Steyning Grammar School)
Grahame Robson (Manor Green, Crawley)
Peter Midwinter (Sir Robert Woodard)
Colin Taylor (Oakmeeds)
Doug Thomas (Alternative Provision)
Eddie Rodriguez (Oathall)
Peter Woodman (The Weald).
They were joined by Jeremy Hunt, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for education and skills, and Jeremy Quinn MP.
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