‘Crisis’ looming for under-funded West Sussex schools

Bishop Luffa head teacher Nick Taunt with pupils on results day
Bishop Luffa head teacher Nick Taunt with pupils on results day

SECONDARY schools in the Observer area have joined forces with headteachers from all over West Sussex in standing up against what has been called a ‘crisis’ in education funding.

Almost all the county’s secondary heads have signed an open letter to the Observer newspapers, printed in full on the right, warning that as they are being forced to slash costs over the next two years the problem is ‘potentially catastrophic’.

West Sussex is the fourth worst-funded area in England out of the 154 authorities because of what has been branded an ‘outdated’ grant system.

Heads from St Philip Howard Catholic High School in Barnham, Midhurst Rother College, Felpham Community College, The Selsey Academy, The Weald in Billingshurst, the Chichester High schools and Bourne Community College and Bishop Luffa in Chichester are among the 37 who have signed the letter, published in full, right.

Nick Taunt, headteacher at Bishop Luffa, said: “The important thing about the letter is that almost every secondary school head has signed it to say this is a very significant matter for all of us.

“The government has been talking about a national funding formula which would create a level playing field across the country but they have delayed making any decision.

“There needs to be changes because the current formula is an historic one which is now way out of date.”

Mr Taunt said funding discrepancies remained, not only throughout areas of the country, but within counties themselves.

“The fact is that running the same size school in Manchester costs much the same as running a school in Cornwall or Norfolk,” Mr Taunt said.

“But the amount of money available to them varies and even within West Sussex there is unfairness.

“The current formula does acknowledge deprivation in areas of the country but basic school funding contains an in- built inequality.”

The letter has been sent to all the local MPs and declares that children of West Sussex are not being treated fairly by an outdated system.

It says that most schools in the county must struggle with insufficient resources because they receive significantly less than others around England.

Describing the problem as ‘potentially catastrophic over the next two years’, it argues that a school of 1,000 students would be expected to reduce it’s costs by around £250,000.

Peter Woodman, chairman of the West Sussex secondary headteachers’ association and head teacher at the Weald in Billingshurst, said: “It’s about fairness and it’s about a lack of equality.”

The heads are calling on their local MPs for meetings so politicians could ‘realise the looming educational funding crisis in West Sussex’ and ensure the long-term future of children in the area ‘was not compromised’, Mr Woodman added.

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