Schools in West Sussex are considering cutting their hours or maybe even switching to a four day school week in a bid to save money.
Many schools were waiting on the unveiling of the government’s new funding formula, but that has been delayed while the impact of Brexit is assessed. This has left headteachers in West Sussex are considering a four day school week and are asking for an emergency injection of £20 million to keep them running next April.
While a petition has been signed by many parents to secure the money, there are real concerns about the impact if a four-day week on the education of pupils – not to mention issues around childcare for those parents who work.
Funding for children in West Sussex was £44 million less than the national average and £200 million less than the average London borough, while increased pension and national insurance contributions have cut school budgets by 8-10% year on year – which basically means less money to keep schools operating.
While many pupils may like the idea of a day off each week, there are real implications for education, but this is not the only cost cutting measure that is being considered. Other proposals are to increase class sizes, cut back on cleaning and maintenance, spend less on books and IT, or simply not replacing staff who leave. Some schools have already taken these measures and still say they need more money.
Impact On Education
Speaking on the impact of a reduced school week, Helen Quiroga, parent governor at Felpham Community College in Bognor Regis stated, “Parents would have quite a lot to say if the situation came to that. Schools don’t like parents taking children out on holiday because of the impact it can have on their education over the years. If it was a case of children going to school for four days out of five and that’s a permanent arrangement, it would have a devastating effect on their education.”
Covering The Curriculum
As you can no doubt imagine, having less teaching hours per week will make it harder for teachers and students to cover all of the work that needs to be done in order to get ready for GCSE or A levels. If the curriculum is not properly covered, then pupils in these areas will be disadvantaged compared to their peers elsewhere – and through no fault of their own.
So what are the government doing to solve the problem?
The Department of Education have said that they are committed to introducing a national funding formula to ensure all schools were fairly funded. A spokesperson explained,
We want all schools, including those in West Sussex, to have access to the resources they need so that every pupil regardless of background or ability can reach their full potential. That’s why we have protected the schools budget so that, as pupil numbers increase, so will the amount of money for our schools – in 2016-17 that will total over £40bn, the highest on record.”
While this is admirable, we hope that the funding issues can be resolved quickly so that schools and colleges across the UK can avoid further cost-cutting measures.