HEADTEACHERS from across Bury have signed a letter highlighting the funding crisis facing the borough’s schools.

The letter, which has been signed by 67 headteachers from primary, secondary and special schools, reveals the ‘major concerns’ about the financial pressures caused by ‘prolonged, significant and increasing underfunding’.

They say the purpose of the letter is 'to let parents and the community know what the impact has been and will be on our schools – and hence on the children of Bury’.

Although the headteachers pledge to minimise the impact of cuts, they warn that tough decisions will have to be made, impacting on children.

It cites larger class sizes, fewer teachers and senior staff, buildings falling into disrepair, cuts to pastoral services, and difficulty in recruiting teachers, among the problems already facing schools.

The letter reads: “As one of the lowest funded local authorities, Bury schools are already using their funding efficiently and we have major concerns about the further financial pressures we are now experiencing.

“Ministers repeatedly claim that education funding is protected and seem to be in denial about the realities of school funding and its impact on children.

"They talk about there being more money in education than ever before, when there are half a million more children in schools than in 2010.

"Whilst the funding per pupil has remained the same, costs to schools have risen significantly including additional costs created by government policy.

“It is quite simple – there is less money in schools.

“Meanwhile schools are also having to take on greater responsibility as the services that we have previously accessed are either being cut, charged for, or are failing to operate properly - as their budgets are also under severe pressure e.g. social care, mental health, school improvement services.

“Government policy means that many Bury Local Authority Services, previously so successful in support of Bury children, are no longer available or incur significant costs to schools.

"Some other services for children manage their reduced budgets by raising their thresholds i.e. you now have to have a ‘bigger’ issue to access the service.

“However, the problems for children remain and often schools are being expected to offer greater pastoral support at a time when our capacity to do so has reduced.

“From April 2018, Bury schools will have to bear more of the costs for supporting a child with special educational needs from its own budget. These children will still require the same level of support.

"At the same time, the number of specialist places in Bury (and nationally) for children with additional/special educational needs is not keeping up with demand.

“We appreciate that education cannot be immune from economic realities. Unfortunately schools are not able to recoup money by increasing our prices or save money by raising our thresholds.

“Part of the solution must be for greater investment in our schools to better improve outcomes for our pupils.

"However, we are well aware of the challenges faced by many public services at this time.

"Please be assured that governors and head teachers will take the utmost care with budgets, to ensure all the money is spent effectively on your children.

“Please continue to support your schools through this very difficult period in education.”

The letter, drafted by Woodhey High School headteacher Brian Roadnight, was penned followed a meeting to discuss funding issues, attended by school leaders..

He said: "We feel the general public and parents do not have an appreciation of the problems facing schools.

"The main purpose is to let parents know they will start to see things not happening in schools that used to happen.

"At Woodhey, the money we have to spend in this financial year is less than last year. We are already working with fewer staff and we have to find further savings.

"We are already used to cutting out cloth and now we have given even less cloth."

Bury North MP James Frith said the letter ‘makes clear the reality of the funding crisis faced by our schools’.

He added: “As the heads themselves say, it is simple - there is less money in our schools, at a time when pupil numbers are rising and costs are soaring.

"The Conservative government and local Tory councillors have buried their heads in the sand; ignoring the reality schools are facing and the pleas they are making for the resources needed for all our children to get the education and support they deserve.

"I will continue challenging ministers at every opportunity to reverse these damaging cuts to our schools and present this heads’ letter to the school’s minister when he appears at the Education Select Committee next month."

Meanwhile, Cllr James Daly, leader of Bury Conservatives, said: “In February 2018, we welcomed the news that schools budgets in the Borough of Bury are to increase significantly over the next three years.

"The Budget report considered by the full Council meeting of Bury Council highlighted that overall schools funding will increase from £170m to £181m by 2020/21.

"Funding is therefore increasing overall, however there is a variation in terms of the impact on individual schools. Some schools are seeing reduced pupil numbers over the next few years and this will therefore attract less funding.

"Our Headteachers and School Governors are doing a tremendous job and the increased funding from Government is being put to good use.”

Last month, campaigners claimed funding cuts would leave schools in Bury down £6.6 million by 2020.

The figures, collated by the School Cuts campaign, showed that by 2020 schools will have less money per pupil than in 2016.

A separate survey of Bury headteachers, carried out by James Frith, asked about pupil and staffing numbers and asked for headteachers comments on the current funding situation.

The survey of Bury headteachers, completed by 45 per cent of borough’s schools, revealed three-quarters of schools say they have been forced to make staff cuts due to funding pressures.

Bury Headteachers

Mrs G. Branch (Headteacher, All Saints CE Primary School);

Mrs F. Gledhill (Headteacher, The Ark Pupil Learning Centre);

Mrs C. Simon (Headteacher, Bury & Whitefield Jewish Primary School);

Mrs M. Graves (Cams Lane Primary School);

Mr P. Barlow (Headteacher, Chantlers Primary School);

Ms M. Howarth (Headteacher, Chapelfield Primary School);

Mr P. Hudson (Headteacher, Chesham Primary School);

Mr D. Gerrard (Headteacher, Christ Church Ainsworth CE Primary School);

Mr I. Young (Executive Headteacher, Christ Church Primary School, Walshaw);

Ms C. H. Hubert (Headteacher, The Derby High School);

Mr D. Waites (Headteacher, East Ward Primary School);

Mrs E. Parkinson (Executive Headteacher, Elms Bank School);

Mr J. Wilton (Headteacher, The Elton High School);

Miss R. Pars (Headteacher, Elton Primary School);

Mrs S. Wardle (Headteacher, Emmanuel Holcombe CE Primary School);

Mr C. Ashley (Headteacher, Fairfield Primary School);

Mr S. Crosier (Headteacher, Greenhill Primary School);

Mr D. Griffith (Headteacher, Greenmount Primary School);

Mr M. Golding (Headteacher, Hazlehurst Primary School);

Mr P. Lord (Headteacher, Heaton Park Primary School);

Ms C. McLachlan (Executive Headteacher, Higher Lane Primary School);

Mr I. Tetlow (Head of School, Higher Lane Primary School);

Mrs G. Evans (Headteacher, Holcombe Brook Primary School);

Mr S. Waddington (Headteacher, Hollins Grundy Primary School);

Mrs E. England (Headteacher, Holly Mount RC Primary School);

Mr M. Elder (Headteacher, Holy Trinity CE Primary School);

Mrs T. Townsend (Headteacher, Lowercroft Primary School);

Mr D. Lansdale (Acting Headteacher, Lowercroft Primary School);

Mrs V. Kay (Headteacher, Hoyle Nursery);

Miss A. Ridley (Headteacher, Mersey Drive Primary School);

Ms H. Chadwick (Headteacher, Millwood Primary Special School);

Mrs D. Ainscoe (Headteacher, Old Hall Primary School);

Mrs J. Davies (Headteacher, Our Lady of Lourdes RC Primary School and Guardian Angels RC Primary School);

Mr D. Stephens (Headteacher, Park View Primary School);

Mr C. Bell (Headteacher, Parrenthorn High School);

Mr D. Mellor (Headteacher, Peel Brow Primary School);

Ms T. Owen (Headteacher, Philips High School);

Miss R. Evans (Headteacher, Prestwich Arts College);

Ms N. Nelson (Executive Headteacher, Radcliffe Primary School);

Mrs K. Higson (Headteacher, Ribble Drive Primary School);

Mr D. Marsh (Headteacher, St. Andrew’s CE Primary School, Ramsbottom);

Miss S. Wilson (Headteacher, St. Andrew’s CE VA Primary School, Radcliffe);

Mr A. Loster (Acting Headteacher, St. Gabriel’s RC High School);

Miss R. Senior (Headteacher, St. Hilda’s CE Primary School);

Miss A. C. Withey (Headteacher, St. John’s CE Primary School);

Mr S. Ollis (Headteacher, St. John with St. Mark CE Primary School);

Mrs E. Moncado (Headteacher, St. Joseph’s RC Primary School);

Mrs K. Perry (Headteacher, St. Margaret’s CE Primary School);

Mrs F. Robinson (Headteacher, St. Marie’s RC Primary School);

Mrs G. Woodward (Headteacher, St. Mary’s CE Primary School, Hawkshaw);

Mrs S. Jones (Headteacher, St. Mary’s CE Primary School, Prestwich);

Mrs S. Bowes (Headteacher, St. Michael’s RC Primary School);

Mrs A. Hainsworth (Headteacher, St. Monica’s RC High School);

Mrs J. Morris (Headteacher, St. Paul’s CE Primary School);

Mr S. Wedgeworth (Headteacher, St. Peter’s CE Primary School);

Mrs J. S. Parsons (Headteacher, St. Stephen’s CE Primary School);

Mrs S. Farnworth (Headteacher, St. Thomas’s CE Primary School);

Mr J. Gregory (Headteacher, Sedgley Park Primary School);

Mr T. Gledhill (Headteacher, Spring Lane School);

Mr D. Hargreaves (Headteacher, Summerseat Methodist Primary School);

Mr B. Duffy (Headteacher, Tottington High School);

Mr S. Holden (Headteacher, Tottington Primary School);

Mrs C. Reynolds (Headteacher, Unsworth Primary School);

Mr M. Van Hecke (Headteacher, Whitefield Primary School);

Mrs K. Macadam (Headteacher, Woodbank Primary School);

Mr B. Roadnight (Headteacher, Woodhey High School);