Headteachers across the Bath area have sent letters home to pupils’ parents, carers and families to warn them about the lack of funding facing schools, and the ‘tough decisions’ they are having to make.
The letter, sent to more than 25,000 homes and signed by virtually every head teacher in Bath, tells parents that schools are experiencing ‘unprecedented cuts to school budgets.’
An extract reads: “As head teachers, we have been cautious about communicating directly with you about the challenges we face (we cannot be seen to be political and it’s difficult to highlight individual challenges when our schools’ future depends on attracting new pupils).
“But we feel that the situation is now so dire, we need to find a way of making politicians listen and we are asking for your help.”
“Schools in Bath and NE Somerset (BANES) are experiencing unprecedented cuts to school budgets. Between 2013/14 and 2018/19 spending per child in BANES schools is down in real terms by -8.8% in Bath Constituency and -6.7% in NE Somerset; while pupil numbers and costs have gone up.
“Our priority is to provide your children with the best education we can, and we are working hard with our teams to cope. But we are reaching breaking point and we are now being forced to take really tough decisions.”
“The underfunding of schools is unjust and immoral”, said John Snell, Head Teacher at Welton Primary School. “Society will look back in a few years and think, why did we allow that to happen?”
Julie Hogan, Head Teacher at Paulton Infants School said: “The system is broken, and our young people are being systematically failed by the generation who should be nurturing, educating and empowering them.
“Without adequate funding, resources to meet the needs of our children, the future looks very bleak indeed.”
“The Government has failed to understand that education is an investment in the country’s future, not simply a cost on a balance sheet,” said Damian Knollys, Head Teacher, Peasedown St John Primary.
Joe Beament, Head Teacher, St. Saviour’s Junior School said: “There is significant pressure on school budgets, schools across Bath and the country are making difficult decisions. These choices are having an impact on the quality of education we offer the children as we are forced to reduce resources and teacher assistant time and consider increases in class sizes or even closing early.
“Teachers and school staff have always gone that extra mile; we see the children every day, we put in the extra hours and work ‘above and beyond’ to support the children, giving them the very best experiences and education.
“However, without adequate funding the offer to the children will reduce and the pressure on school staff will increase. The Government’s misleading ‘sound bites’ are a smoke screen to the reality of school finances.”
Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath, and long-standing supporter of the campaign said: “I don’t know how many times I’ve shouted about this in the streets alongside teachers, and alongside my colleagues in Westminster.
“The government just say, ‘we’ve spent more money on schools this year than last year’, which is completely disingenuous. They are intentionally hiding behind wilfully out of context figures.”
The campaign is continuing on Saturday 8th June, where pupils, parents and staff are holding a ‘protest picnic’.
Open to everyone, the group is meeting at Queen Square at midday and marching to the Royal Crescent.
Wera continued: “The bottom line is our children’s education is suffering. Not only is this government completely incapable of doing anything positive in our society, but they are actively ignoring the problems. Please join us on the 8th June so we can collectively drag their heads out of the sand.”