Boost funding now for 14 Plymouth schools in financial trouble

Public service union UNISON is calling on Plymouth politicians to stand up for local schools after it was revealed that 14 are now “of concern” to the local council.

The city’s assistant direct for education, participation and skills, Judith Harwood, admitted on record in a meeting that cuts meant 14 schools were now “of concern” to the authority due to their unsustainable funding situations.

The budget for Plymouth schools is 6% lower than similar areas, and the funding settlement for the next two years is not enough to meet increased costs, let alone plug an £8m gap in the books.

Schools minister Nick Gibb acknowledged the gap in a recent meeting with council officers as well as the rising costs for schools from increases in NICs and the apprenticeship levy. Despite this the Minister and civil servants claimed no extra money could be found for Plymouth.

So far this year 11 schools have started procedures that will lead to job losses and reduced staff hours.

Some support staff have already been told they are to made redundant after years of service, and changes will hit teachers too as the government squeezes school budgets.

In Plymouth school funding lost by 2019 comes to £6.8m, or £215 per pupil. Across Plympton, Plymstock and Ivybridge the total funding lost will amount to as much as £3.8m, or more than £267 per pupil.

Concerns have been raised by Plymouth in UNISON about the resources used turning schools into academies, which also leaves them out of reach from Council support when things go wrong.

Plymouth in UNISON Branch Secretary Kevin Treweeks said:

“Parents aren’t always told schools are cutting back on support for young people, and it often affects those children who need support the most. It’s unacceptable that the next generation are being denied the best education that will equip them to get on in the world.

“Funding has been inadequate for too long and now the cracks are showing. Schools are struggling with problems in recruitment, stressed out staff, and now they are worried about redundancies too. In the past we could redeploy staff to other schools, but with more acadmies and the scale of the cuts this year it’s hard even to do that.

“Whoever wins the General Election must deal with the crisis in our schools. All the evidence shows that good schools are made by their staff. It’s time all school staff were valued appropriately.”