‘Show us the money’ – Portsmouth and Hampshire headteachers send a strong message to prime minister Boris Johnson

DESPITE Boris Johnson’s pledge to ‘level up’ school funding, new figures show that 51 out of 58 schools in Portsmouth are projected to be financially worse off in real-terms in 2020 than they were in 2015.

By Neil Fatkin
Thursday, 24th October 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 24th October 2019, 7:05 am
Prime Minister Boris Johnson Picture: Kirsty Wigglesworth
Prime Minister Boris Johnson Picture: Kirsty Wigglesworth

Headteachers have warned of continuing rises in class sizes and cuts to the curriculum – and a union rep has said that one Portsmouth school is only spending 9p per pupil each year on maths lessons .

The prime minister has said that every secondary school will receive at least £5,000 per pupil next year, with every primary school getting a minimum of £4,000 from 2021-22 – but headteachers and unions say this is not enough. On paper this should help many Hampshire secondary schools as the

Figures taken from the teaching union’s School Cuts website suggests that Portsmouth schools will have £34.9m less real-terms funding in 2020 compared to 2015. The new data, which now factors in costs such as increased pension and salary contributions, suggests per pupil funding will be worse than initially feared.

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Head teachers have said the prime minister's recent funding pledge does not redress a decade of cuts. Photograph: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

Last year the unions predicted a per pupil real-terms funding shortfall of £155 which has now been revised to £257.

It’s a similar situation across the county with 385 out of 489 Hampshire schools projected to be worse off with a real-terms funding reduction of £178m – an average loss of £166 per pupil.

The figures were calculated by the National Education Union in conjunction with the Association of School and College Leaders and the National Association of Head Teachers.

NEU vice-president and Portsmouth teacher, Amanda Martin, who is also chairwoman of Portsmouth Labour, said: ‘During this period class sizes have increased, resources have got less and teachers and teaching assistants have been made redundant. I know of one primary school in the city which is funding its maths education at 9p per pupil. Head teachers have been constantly faced with having to make economic rather than educational decisions.’

(left to right) Richard Carlyle, headteacher of Porchester Community School, Claudia Cubbage, principal of Henry Cort Community College, and Ian Gates, headteacher of The Cowplain School. Ian has said he "needs to see the colour of Mr Johnson's money". Picture : Neil Fatkin

The funding update is in response to Boris Johnson’s pledge to ‘level up’ funding after the introduction of a new funding formula resulted in a massive disparity of per pupil funding across the country.

As a result of the new distribution, which aimed to move money from affluent areas to less affluent ones, Hampshire schools ended up with the second lowest rate of per pupil funding in the country at an average rate of £5,060 per student compared to £8,331 in Tower Hamlets.

The situation led to the formation of the Worth Less Campaign which resulted in thousands of headteachers marching on parliament.

For headteachers it was not the principle of the redistribution of funding to areas of high social deprivation but the fact there was insufficient funding to mitigate this change.

Portsmouth College principal, Simon Barrable, has said that until the recent funding increase, per pupil funding for post-16 education had remained the same for the last decade. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Headteacher at Portchester Community School, Richard Carlyle, said: ‘All you are doing is moving around the same pot of money which isn’t large enough in the first place.’

A government spokesman said: ‘Schools in Portsmouth will receive an extra £5.8m from April, taking total funding for 2020-21 in Portsmouth to £119.9m. It’s because we’ve recognised the pressures schools have faced and have listened to teachers and parents that we are investing a total of £14bn more in schools over the next three years to 2022-23. This money will allow schools to invest more in teachers and resources to ensure that all children get the top quality education they deserve.’

While headteachers have welcomed the increased 4.4 per cent rate of funding for pupils they feel it does not go far enough to redress a ‘decade of cuts’.

Simon Graham, headteacher at St Edmund’s Catholic School, Portsmouth’s top-performing secondary, said: ‘Whilst this funding is positive news and a step in the right direction it does not redress the real terms eight per cent cuts experienced since 2016. It’s also to be phased in over a period of years when schools need the money now.’