Belper School reveals fears over funding ‘crisis’

Belper School.
Belper School.

The leadership at Belper School says we are going through ‘worrying times for the education of our children’.

The governing body at the school and sixth form, which oversees more than 1,200 pupils, raised its worries in a letter to parents.

It says that the impact of the ‘school funding crisis’ has left it with significant issues.

This has forced it to resort to cutting the amount of teachers at the school, which is rated good by Ofsted.

There are now 15 fewer full-time teachers than there were at the school in 2013 – a 17 per cent cut.

To further combat issues, it has also had to reduce the hours and number of support staff, including librarians and kitchen staff, by 15 per cent and cut leadership members from nine to seven – since 2013. This has left the school, in John O’Gaunts Way, with larger class sizes.

The letter says: “The cost of a teacher in 2017/18 was 7.5 per cent (£3,408) more than the cost of a teacher on the same hours and pay scale in 2014/15.

“In order to cover the unfunded costs of this increase, funds have to be diverted from other areas of the school therefore reducing funding and consequently provision in the affected area.”

Further burdens are the withdrawal or reduction in grants from Derbyshire County Council.

“Over time, these funding sources have dried up as less funding is available,” the letter reads. “Consequently, services such as careers education, education welfare and educational psychology, are now almost fully chargeable directly from school funds.”

Overall, the school’s leadership that the problem lies with funding reducing but the required spend increasing – leaving a gap. The governing board states: “This gap is increasing faster than it can be addressed resulting in reserves that schools hold running dry. This is the situation that schools, including Belper School, find themselves in – a very difficult situation that impacts on children, regardless of what the Government or DfE say. It is a tremendous testimony to the students, staff and wider community of Belper and the surrounding villages that the school has managed to maintain its ethos and high standards in such turbulent times.

The letter added: “These are worrying times for the education of our children, but rest assured, the governors and the school will continue to navigate the choppy waters and make the difficult decisions that are needed in order to secure a successful future for Belper School and Sixth Form Centre. At Belper School, we will continue to strive for an outstanding education for the children of Belper and surrounding villages.”