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Accrington headteacher claims school funding cuts have 'cut through the bone'

Figures claim Hyndburn schools will see a real terms cut of £2.7m over five years

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Richard Jones, headteacher at St Christopher's with Graham Jones MP, County Councillor Loraine Cox and Hyndburn Council leader Miles Parkinson

A headteacher has claimed five years of funding cuts to Hyndburn primary and secondary schools totalling £2.8m will ‘cut into the bone’.

The comments from Accrington St Christopher’s head Richard Jones come after the Government found a £50 million funding pot available for a controversial grammar school expansion policy.

The Queens Road West academy school is facing a real terms cut of nearly £200,000 in the five years to 2020, according to the schoolcuts.org.uk website.

According to the published figures the school will see a decrease of £197,751 over the period.

Mr Jones said: “Five years of increasing cuts has now cut into the bone and is affecting us in three ways.

“The first is the ability to obtain textbooks and equipment, secondly the need to maintain and update our buildings and fixtures, and thirdly pressure on our staffing levels.

“This comes as the government has found £50m to fund grammar schools when there is no evidence as far as I can see that this was needed.”

St Christopher’s is an academy which receives its funding direct from central government and is not within Lancashire County Council control.

County education chiefs have responded that per pupil funding across Lancashire is actually on the up.

Mr Jones added: “Our intention is for all our students to have the best opportunity to thrive and go out into the world equipped to do whatever they want.”

The figures calculate that 41 primary and secondary schools in Hyndburn are facing a revenue cut of £2.8m.

Hyndburn MP Graham Jones claimed that our schools are ‘at breaking point’.

He said: “Lancashire has been hit extremely hard and faces the second largest cuts in the country.

“By 2019/20 funding will have fallen by £33,343,918 within just five years.

“While our comprehensive schools reach breaking point it has just been announced that grammar schools will be given £50 million of government funding.”

The schoolcuts.org.uk figures are for the core schools budget, so do not include early years or sixth forms.

Their methodology took the schools block funding allocations from 2015/16 as the baseline and factored in the Office for Budget Responsibility’s estimate for inflation for 2015 to 2020.

Lancashire County Council said all its schools have received a share of additional Dedicated Schools Grant funding of £1.3 billion for 2018/19 and 2019/20, meaning an actual rise of at least 0.5 per cent for every pupil.

Lancashire County Councils Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, County Councillor Susie Charles

County Councillor Susie Charles, cabinet member for schools, said: “Any increase in education spending is good news, and this additional funding to help to ease the financial pressure on schools is very welcome.

“However, we are aware of the financial challenges that schools face following a period of per pupil funding remaining the same. We will monitor this situation closely to ensure that we continue to work closely to support our schools.”

Education secretary Damian Hinds has unveiled a £50m fund for selective schools which agree to improve application numbers from disadvantaged children.

The government said the creation of new schools where they are needed most and enabling great schools to grow can give parents greater choice. Proposals to lift the ban on creating new grammar schools were dropped after last year’s general election.

What do you think? Write to our letters page at accringtonobserver@menmedia.co.uk

Estimated real terms reduction in core schools funding income from 2015/16 to 2019/20:

Secondary schools:

Accrington Academy £415,730

Accrington St Christopher’s Church of England High School £197,751

Mount Carmel Roman Catholic High School £374,754

Norden High School & Sports College £48,693

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Rhyddings Business and Enterprise School £194,274

The Hollins Technology College £256,822

Total secondary schools cut: £1,488,024
Total primary schools cut: £1,337,990
Total schools cut: £2,826,014