Words & pics by Ed King – profile pic of Jack Dromey supplied by MP’s office
Schools across Erdington are facing a ‘funding crisis’ due a lack of financial support from Government and the spiralling costs of Covid, a recent survey from Erdington MP Jack Dromey has found.
Contacting headteachers across the constituency the report discovered half of all Erdington secondary schools, primary schools, and maintained nursery schools (MNSs) are under severe financial strain – with 60% expecting to set a deficit budget in 2021/2022.
93% of schools contacted agreed the lack of Government funding ‘will have a negative impact on the quality of education offered.’
Whilst a shocking 100% of respondents said their school ‘does not have enough resources to meet the needs’ of students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) – leaving some of the most vulnerable young people in their care at the most risk.
Extra costs incurred during the pandemic, such as the extensive cleaning and signage needed to keep schools Covid safe, pushed many already thinly stretched educational budgets to breaking point.
Additional staffing costs have also been a major factor with 92.7% of schools citing this as an extra financial pressure during the pandemic – 63.7% reported staffing as the area in which they have incurred the most additional expenditure.
The stark reality means many schools are having to consider reducing the number of staff at all levels and pulling back non-educational services and extracurricular activities.
Educators across Erdington are calling on the Government to address its financial support strategy for schools and maintained nurseries, with 92.7% wanting extra funding to cover additional costs caused by the pandemic.
Castle Vale Nursery has been fighting educational budget cuts and funding concerns since before Covid, stating added financial pressure from the pandemic could be the ‘final nail in the coffin’ for many educators.
Castle Vale Nursery Headteacher, Sally Leese, said:
“This pandemic has hopefully highlighted to our government what is important moving forward and that is what future we can give to our children. Early years and schools need to be properly funded so they can do the best for children, not just the best they can manage.
“Early years has been woefully underfunded for years and this is starting to see nursery schools closing. COVID costs have just been the final nail in the coffin for many.
“Many children under five have missed out on life experiences and even spending time with other children. This is an opportunity for our government to spend money in a way that will benefit our society for the future. Fund all aspects of education properly and the country will reap the benefits”.
Elsewhere on the Vale, TiggyWinkles Day Nursery is set to close at the end of July despite the early years provider fighting hard to keep the nursery open – including a ‘significant cash injection’ from The Pioneer Group.
TiggyWinkles staff have been using their last few weeks to find nursery placements for all the children in their care, as well as seeking for alternative employment for themselves.
Jack Dromey MP for Erdington, whose office conducted the recent survey, said:
“This survey highlights the serious consequences a decade of underinvestment in our educational system is having on the education of our children and young people.
“Even before the pandemic, rising levels of child poverty meant that annual improvements in pupil outcomes had started to recede, and the narrowing of the attainment gap between less and more privileged students had stopped, and possibly even gone into reverse. The COVID-19 crisis has compounded the sense of urgency.
“Urgent action is required, therefore. Yet in spite of all the rhetoric, the Government is failing to back their promise to ‘level up’ education with the action needed to ensure its realisation, leaving schools without the funding and resources they so desperately need.
“Enough is enough. The Government must commit to funding schools properly in the autumn Comprehensive Spending Review. It is time to stop viewing education spending as a cost and to start seeing it as an investment in our children’s, and by extension our country’s, future”.
Castle Vale Nursery Headteacher, Sally Leese, talking to Midlands Today (Nov 2018)
For more on from the Department for Education visit www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-education
For more from Castle Vale Nursery visit www.castlevalenursery.co.uk
For more from Jack Dromey MP for Erdington visit www.jackdromey.co.uk