Governors threaten to "strike" over school funding crisis

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Governors have threatened to withdraw their services unless the government provides £20million of emergency funding to West Sussex schools.

As the funding crisis within our schools deepens, governors from 40 schools have written to their MPs warning they were also giving “serious consideration” to refusing to sign off school budgets for 2017/18.
The letters came on the back of headteachers’ own warnings that class sizes would grow, the curriculum would narrow and school hours would be reduced if more money was not made available.
Throwing their weight behind the Worth Less campaign for fairer funding, the governors said a lack of money meant they were being forced to consider cutting the resources available to students – a prospect they branded “unacceptable”.
The letter, which was sent out on Monday (January 30), stated: “As governors consider budgets presented to us we are seeing with shock and incomprehension what school leaders will be forced to put in place.
“This comes after years of restricted financing.
“Reductions in teaching and support staff, our curricular offer and pastoral/counselling care will severely undermine provision within our school.
“Governors are being asked to contemplate the diminution of skills and resources that they are able to offer students in their schools.
“This is not acceptable.”
The governors – who are all volunteers – said schools had been placed in “an impossible financial situation” – one that didn’t look like getting better any time soon.
As well as the current poor funding, they said they had “grave concerns” about the adequacy of the new National Funding Formula, which is due to come into effect in 2018, saying it would be “significantly undermined by the ongoing introduction of unsustainable, unfunded cost burdens”.
Those costs include an increase in pension and national insurance contributions, pay rises and the cost of the government’s apprenticeship levy.
With a year of under-funding and rising costs before the new formula is introduced, the governors echoed calls from headteachers for £20million of emergency funding to help plug the gap.
The letter stated: “As governors, we freely give our time and expertise on behalf of children and families within our communities.
“As legal custodians of our schools, we cannot, therefore, sit idly by as our institutions and school leaders are placed in an impossible financial situation.”
The letter said the governors were considering action in an effort to ensure the Department for Education understood the power of their concerns.
The action would involve: withdrawing and/or suspending their voluntary services, refusing to sign off budgets for 2017/18, setting deficit budgets for maintained schools, and reserving the right to take future actions should matters not improve.

One Horsham parent said: "This sounds like a strike to me. It seems a bit drastic, but their hands are tied and they are in a lose-lose situation."

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