A PETITION has been set up calling for West Berkshire councillors to put pressure on the Government to allocate more funding for the district’s schools.
Members of Burghfield and Mortimer Labour Party are raising the issue of cuts to funding for local schools ahead of the Department for Education’s final decision on the new schools funding formula.
The group, taking data from www.schoolcuts.org.uk, has estimated that West Berkshire schools could lose as much as £10.4m in funding, meaning an average reduction of £473 per pupil by 2020.
The group also says the cuts could mean as many as 279 teaching jobs are also at risk.
Campaigners have, however, forecast that schools could be further affected once the new funding formula is confirmed later this year.
To highlight the issue, parents in Beenham gathered outside the village’s primary school to publicise the likely loss of £475 per pupil over the next three years, in the hope that West Berkshire Council will take notice.
Another local parent, Sabina Netherclift, whose son attends The Willink School in Burghfield Common, said she was concerned about funding after the school issued a letter to parents advising a predicted deficit in the next school year.
She said: “I am extremely worried that the intended cuts will seriously affect the education my son and other children receive at the school.
“The possibility of bigger class sizes, teachers not being replaced and lack of support for children with additional needs can only have a negative impact on the children’s learning.
“The current situation is unacceptable and I am asking our elected representatives to stand up on our behalf and fight for more money to be allocated to our schools.”
The group has now set up a petition which states: “Education is a significant factor in the development of our children and we are fortunate to live in an area with schools providing good outcomes for their pupils.
“In recent years, rising costs for schools, without any additional funds to meet them, have resulted in cuts to teaching and support staff, departments being closed down and families increasingly being required to contribute towards vital text books and materials.”
The petition can be found at http://www.wokinghamlabourparty.org/wberksschoolsp
In 2016, the National Audit Office predicted that without additional finances the nation’s schools would see an eight-per-cent real-term reduction in spending per pupil, while needing to make savings of £3bn by 2020.
West Berkshire Council spokeswoman, Peta Stoddart-Crompton, said: “The council has not received this petition and so is not in a position to verify the information or signatures.
“Therefore, we are unable to comment on it at this time.
“If or when it is formally submitted, the council would respond to the organisers.
“We are aware the DfE are considering the responses to the second stage consultation on the proposed National Funding Formula, to which we and local schools have responded.
“We hope these comments will be taken on board when we see the final proposals.”
The Willink School was contacted for comment, but did not respond by the time the NWN went to press.