This week, at full council the Labour Group were successful in getting its motion to support schools facing financial deficit, passed. The motion comes at a time when schools are facing more financial pressures than ever before. Such pressures include, an increase in contributions to national insurance and teachers’ pensions, the introduction of the national living wage, the apprenticeship levy, and changes made due to the Government’s National Funding Formula. This is on top of the mental health crisis amongst young people and the increase in SEND pupils.
In Warwickshire, schools on average are facing a loss of approx. £244 per pupil, and 19% of schools under Warwickshire County Council control are in deficit. Headteachers up and down the country, have been raising the alarm for months. Funding cuts are making it impossible to deliver a proper education. Every day headteachers are having to make difficult decisions – decisions about which basic supplies they can afford, and which staff will have reduced hours because there is simply not enough money. Nationally in real terms per pupil, £2.8bn has been cut from school budgets since 2015.
The motion passed will ensure a thorough report be presented to Cabinet on how and why schools in Warwickshire are in deficit and it will consider what support County will give to such schools. The Labour group urged that the report does NOT focus on how schools can make further cut-backs, since they are already cut to the bone. The report will consider possible financial help.
Cllr Helen Adkins, Leamington Willes, who proposed the motion, commented, ‘In Leamington, I know of one local primary school who has suffered £376,000 pounds worth of cuts since 2015. And a large secondary school who has suffered cuts of £2.4million. Despite the rise in academies, the County still have responsibility for many schools, many of whom are in deficit or moving into deficit. I think there is a recognition cross-party in Warwickshire that our education system is facing a financial crisis. I am pleased this motion was passed and I look forward to reading the report.’
Richard Chatterway, Leader of the Labour group, who seconded the motion, added, ‘many schools are having to make difficult decisions, such as having fewer adults in the classroom, cutting down on essential teaching support. We are seeing larger class sizes and less individual attention for students and a more narrowed curriculum. I welcome the support we received for the motion and I hope the report will help show us how we can support our schools.’
The motion reads, ‘[t]hat, the County Council recognises that schools face more financial pressures that ever before (including increases in contribution to national insurance, teacher’s pensions, the apprenticeship levy and cute incurred due to the Government’s National Funding Formula). In view of this Council requests that the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Education and Learning produces a report to the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee showing how the Council will support the County maintained schools currently in budget deficit, or potentially in budget deficit in the near future and including in the report consideration of how financial support might be offered to such schools.’