Plea to address West Sussex schools funding ‘crisis’

Allan Hutchings 520340 SUS-150331-110513001
Allan Hutchings 520340 SUS-150331-110513001

Schools in West Sussex are missing out on up to £15m of Government funding due to an ‘unfair’ system - according to the county council.

Headteachers in the county, including all secondary school heads in the Mid Sussex district, signed an open letter to the Mid Sussex Times earlier this month warning of a looming funding crisis and a potential catastrophe unless they were given their fair share of Government grants.

This gap in provision is not fair funding.s

Jeremy Hunt, cabinet member for education and skills

As West Sussex is already the fourth-worst funded area in England due to an ‘outdated’ system, they warned that cost-cutting could only be done by reducing staffing and increasing class sizes.

The headteachers said parents would be ‘staggered’ that their children are ‘not being treated fairly’.

Jeremy Hunt, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for education and skills, has already written to the then Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, expressing his serious concerns over this issue.

The letter reads: “If West Sussex was funded at the average SBUF (Schools Block Unit of Funding) for all county councils, our schools would have received an additional £15.1m.

“If we were funded at the SBUF for our statistical neighbours, schools would have received an additional £11.8m.

“This gap in provision is not fair funding.”

The letter goes on to say that the county council ‘has not been able to fund, in full, the unavoidable cost pressures in schools in 2015/16’.

Mr Hunt added: “The county council overall is having to reduce its budgets by £68m. There is simply no capacity for us to meet this shortfall.

“I am now calling on the next government to urgently address this unfair distribut-a high-performing county and we have a clear strategic commitment to achieve this.”

The open letter from West Sussex’s headteachers reads: “We believe an outdated grant system is to blame which has not been tackled by a succession of governments.

“The end result is that the children of West Sussex are not being treated fairly.

“This means that most secondary schools in West Sussex must struggle with resources which are simply not sufficient for the job they are expected to do.The problem becomes potentially catastrophic over the next two years as additional costs are passed to schools with no increases in budget.

Headteachers who have signed the open letter include Jonathan Morris from Warden Park Academy, Rose Hetherton from Downlands School and Eddie Rodriguez, Oathall School.