Parents unite after funding cuts sees Hayling school pick glue sticks over heating for staff

THE extent of school funding cuts has been laid bare by an infant school which revealed it had to stop heating its staff room in order to pay for glue sticks.

Tuesday, 24th October 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 4:24 am
Headteacher Lucy Ford with Year 1 and Year 2 pupils with all the donations Picture: Habibur Rahman (171465-5)

Parents on Mill Rythe Infant School’s PTFA board raced into action last Friday following the revelation by assembling a ‘donation station’.

The temporary station was for other parents to donate glue sticks, coloured paper and funds to help the school which has remained silent about funding cuts for the last two years.

Lou Earp, newly-appointed chair of the PTFA, acted urgently after the school in Havant Road, Hayling Island revealed the extent of the school’s situation.

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Headteacher Lucy Ford with Year 1 and Year 2 pupils with all the donations Picture: Habibur Rahman (171465-5)

The mum of three said: ‘When we heard that the school could not afford to fund staff rooms as they needed to buy glue sticks, it prompted us to act immediately.

‘This is the first time the school has told us about what’s going on and we wanted to help. A school should not be forced to choose between staff heating and glue sticks.’

Around 500 glue sticks, full boxes of school equipment and £175 in cash was donated on the day to the school.

Ms Earp, who lives on the island, added: ‘The situation is ridiculous but as parents we had to come together to help and we have had great support from across the area. It’s not just Mill Rythe as well, we want to help all schools on the island.

Headteacher Lucy Ford with Year 1 and Year 2 pupils with all the donations Picture: Habibur Rahman (171465-5)

‘We just want children to be able to do children’s activities at school.’

Alice Austin-Grant, the PTFA’s secretary, said: ‘It really makes you wonder what century we are in when schools are facing this kind of situation. This is Britain, not a third-world country.’

The revelation comes as thousands of teachers will be heading to Parliament today to attend a mass lobby, urging for increased school funding.

The Department for Education (DfE) recently announced an extra £1.3bn for schools between 2018 and 2020, but across the country, headteachers argued that this was not enough.

Education secretary Justine Greening announced a new funding formula that would see an increase in the basic amount allocated for each pupil and a lump sum of £110,000 for each school.

However, according to data by the National Union of Teachers (NUT), Mill Rythe is facing a £108k loss by 2020 with three teaching positions lost.

Amanda Martin, the Portsmouth secretary of the NUT, said: ‘More and more schools are being forced to make economic decisions like businesses.

‘What will the school have to do if more cuts are imposed? Get a Victorian gas lamp to provide heating for its staff?’

Sean Beech worked at Wickham Church of England School as a specialist reading teacher for five years until his role was cut due to funding cuts.

He said: ‘It is staggering hearing about the lengths that parents are having to go to in order to ensure the children of this country have an education. It is scandalous that this is happening.

‘It is about time the government starts properly funding our schools rather than using them as a political chess piece.

Funding for schools is established by the DfE which allocates funds to the local authority – in this case, Hampshire County Council – which distributes money to schools.

Councillor Peter Edgar, executive member for education at the council, said: ‘Schools are responsible for managing their own budgets and every school is in the position of having to overcome its individual financial challenges.’

Alan Mak, Havant MP, said: ‘I’ve campaigned for more school funding and that’s paid off because every local school will get more money in real terms from 2018, including Mill Rythe.

‘When I was contacted, I acted quickly by meeting the schools minister to raise the concerns. I have also offered to meet her to discuss what more could be done.’