Parents in Leighton warned over ‘real threat’ to our schools

Rebecca Clarke at Greenleas Derwent Road
Rebecca Clarke at Greenleas Derwent Road
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Headteachers in Leighton Buzzard are calling on the public to support a campaign for fairer school funding .

Last week, LC2 – a collaboration of 28 schools in the Leighton Buzzard, Woburn Sands and Totternhoe areas – announced that its schools expected to lose around £365 in funding per pupil as part of the government’s new formula.

Now headteachers are calling for fairer funding for schools across the county, and indeed the country.

In a letter sent home to all parents, they have urged the public to write to their local MP, the Secretary of State for Education or complete an online petition at http://www.schoolcuts.org.uk.

The letter states: “We cannot emphasise enough the real threat posed to our schools and would welcome your valued support in raising awareness.”

Greenleas Lower School headteacher Rebecca Clarke said: “We were hoping this [new formula] would bring a solution to straitened financial times.

“The fear is that schools are now going to have to make tough decisions.”

Historically, Central Bedforshire Council is one of the lowest-funded authorities for education in the country.

Additional funds are available to local authorities with a higher number of under privileged children, a requirement which Central Bedfordshire does not meet.

And local schools have been disappointed to see the new formula leaves them even less well off.

Mrs Clarke said: “Whilst the government keeps telling us there’s more funding than ever before, in real terms funding for education is at an all-time low.

“The reality is that the cost of running schools has increased year on year.”

Mrs Clarke said schools in Cambridgeshire had been forced to cut jobs as a result of inadequate funding.

Last month, figures put forward by the National Union of Teachers estimated that Vandyke and Cedars Upper Schools could lose 25 teachers between them by 2019 under the new formula, with smaller job losses at each of the Leighton Buzzard’s middle and lower schools.

But Mrs Clarke added: “These ‘job losses’ aren’t real, however they are one of the routes some schools may have to take.”

An LC2 spokesman said: “It is extremely disappointing and disheartening that schools within LC2 are looking at significant reductions to their funding, on average £365 per pupil.

“Schools have already had to absorb significant increased costs including National Insurance and pension contributions which were brought about by changes in the law, with the Department for Education providing no extra funding for these costs.

“In fact, during this parliament overall funding per pupil has reduced.”