St Helens parents warned of school budget fears

Primary schools in St Helens have written to thousands of parents over school budget fears
Primary schools in St Helens have written to thousands of parents over school budget fears
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Primary schools in St Helens have written to thousands of parents over fears school budgets will be “unsustainable” by 2019.


The St Helens branch of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) is supporting the letters, which went home with children on Friday.

The letters warn “tough decisions will have to be taken” and that no guarantees can be made cuts will not impact teaching.

Parents have also been told that NAHT is lobbying government to resolve the “funding crisis”.

The letter says: “We will work hard to ensure that cuts have the least impact on teaching possible.

“However, rising costs and a frozen budget mean that tough decisions will have to be taken.

“We cannot guarantee that such cuts will not impact on teaching, despite doing our upmost to prevent this.

“Please be assured that we will take the utmost care with budgets, to ensure all the money we have is spent effectively on your children.

“We are also letting the local authority and government know just how serious the funding crisis has become.”

Schools in St Helens are funded through the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG), a ring-fenced grant from central government made up of four blocks, which is then distributed by the council.

The indicative DSG for St Helens in 2019-20, prior to adjustments for academy funding, is £145 million.

Despite an overall net increase of £5 million in 2019-20 compared with 2018-19, funding has remained fairly static for a number of years.

Andrew Howard, secretary of NAHT for St Helens, said all schools’ budgets are “stretched”.

Mr Howard added that the lack of adequate funding for SEND pupils is having a “real impact”.

The issue of high needs funding to support pupils with additional needs has been a long-running concern for head teachers and governors in St Helens.

In December the schools forum rejected plans to transfer £540,000 to the DSG schools block to the high needs block in to fund the costs of top-up payments for children with SEND in primary and secondary schools.

According to the NAHT, seven out of ten school leaders think their budgets will be unsustainable by the 2019 academic year.

The letter continues: “In July 2018, the Department for Education re-allocated £1.3 billion for schools from existing budgets, but this is over two years and is not sufficient.

“Nationally, there is a £2 billion gap in funding each year until 2022.

“It’s clear that the Treasury must now provide additional resources to resolve the funding crisis.”