Have your say
Peterborough schools may have to close some days due to a funding crisis which has left many at breaking point.
Shrinking budgets are impacting on children’s education, headteachers have warned, with staff being let go, equipment not replaced, and vital services cut.
One headteacher, Bryan Erwin from Ken Stimpson Community School, said schools have become “the fourth emergency service” as funding cuts elsewhere have left teachers acting as carers.
The head of education in Peterborough Jonathan Lewis said the situation is “as bad as I’ve ever seen it,” and that schools are “on the verge” of closing some days to save money.
Mr Lewis and Peterborough City Council cabinet member for education Lynne Ayres will now write to Education Secretary Damian Hinds calling for urgent action, with Peterborough having seen its budget reduce in real terms by 10 per cent on top of increasing pressures such as rising pupil numbers.
The plea for more money comes after the council wrote to all city headteachers asking how funding cuts have impacted their schools.
Examples given included using apprentices to cover roles, reducing the number of teaching assistants, cutting subjects from the curriculum, ending counselling and heads even having to teach classes.
Mr Lewis said: “We are a London borough without the same funding. They are getting to £2-3,000 extra funding per person. We are asking to be funded appropriately.
“Class sizes are getting bigger and we’re asking teachers to do more, which leads to challenges in recruitment and retention.
“We’re also having to make really difficult decisions with special educational needs.
“This is starting to impact every school in Peterborough.”
Mr Erwin said Ken Stimpson in Werrington had seen a real terms cut of £200,000 a year.
He added: “An increasing number of students are coming into the school with higher needs, particularly with learning issues we’re having to address, but there’s no more funding coming in for those children. We’re having to find the resources by robbing Peter to pay Paul to ensure children get the high quality education they deserve.
“We are under pressure to replace computers which are vital for lessons. The quality of education is under threat.
“We’re putting Elastoplast on Elastoplast – but we need and deserve more funding for young people.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said this year funding for schools in Peterborough has increased by 2.3 per cent per pupil compared to 2017/18, adding: “This amounts to an extra £12.5 million when rising pupil numbers are taken into account.
“We have introduced a wide range of support to help schools reduce costs and get the best value from their resources – from a free-to-use vacancy service to cut the costs of recruiting teachers, to advisors who are providing expert help and support to individual schools that need it.”