Give Devon's schoolchildren a fair deal

DEVON S schools are uniting to launch a campaign calling on the Government to give education in the county a fair deal. Headteachers, governors, teachers and parents will launch the campaign at a special protest meeting at Stoke Hill Junior School in Exe

DEVON'S schools are uniting to launch a campaign calling on the Government to give education in the county a fair deal.

Headteachers, governors, teachers and parents will launch the campaign at a special protest meeting at Stoke Hill Junior School in Exeter on Monday (Oct 19).

The campaign slogan will be Hands Up for Fairer School Funding.

The schools say Devon is one of the worst funded education authorities in the country, standing at 148th out of 151 councils.


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Currently the top funded council in the country , the City of London, receives �7,603 for every pupil.

The national average funding for each school pupil is �4,217 and in Devon that drops to �3,842.

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In a 1,000-pupil secondary school that equates to �375,000 a year - enough to pay for around 10 experienced teachers. In a primary school of 200 pupils, the gap amounts to �75,000.

The campaign is backed by the Devon primary, secondary and special heads' associations, the Devon Association of Governors, the main teaching unions and the Devon Education Forum.

It also has the whole-hearted support of Devon County Council.

Holsworthy Community College principal David Fitzsimmons, who is chairman of the Devon Association of Secondary Headteachers, said schools had received a three-year settlement from the Government from 2008 to 2011, but Devon was well below the national average.

At the same time, schools were experiencing significant spending pressures, including the impact of job evaluation on non-teaching staff, energy price rises and general cost inflation.

He said: "In the last academic year, more than a fifth of Devon's secondary schools were forced to make redundancies, while a number of other posts were lost through natural wastage.

"That level of redundancies was the highest in 10 years and our projections for school budgets in 2010/11 give significant cause for concern. Over half are predicting a deficit budget and that could mean the loss of over 100 jobs. And all this is happening in schools in Devon which are very far from over-staffed because of their historic unfair funding from the Government."

Primary Schools Headteachers' chairman Gary Chown, who is head of Tiverton's Wilcombe Primary, said: "We are not asking for special treatment. What we want is for Devon's schoolchildren to be treated fairly.

Historically, education authorities in London and the South East have been given more Government funding because the cost of living was judged to be higher.

"But staff costs account for around 80 per cent of a school's running costs.

It costs roughly the same to employ a teacher anywhere in the country, because of the national pay scales. Books and equipment cost the same. So do most of the running costs of a school. And, in Devon, many remote schools have to pay more for such services as Broadband, because of their distance from the main hub."

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