‘Bitter disappointment’ as Sidmouth College stands to lose £56,000 a year in funding shake-up

James Ingham-Hill, principal of Sidmouth College.

James Ingham-Hill, principal of Sidmouth College. - Credit: Archant

Principal warns class sizes will rise and standards suffer without ‘significant’ increase in money

Hugo Swire stock picture

Hugo Swire stock picture - Credit: Archant

The principal of Sidmouth College has warned that classes will rise to ‘unprecedented levels’ and standards are bound to fall without a significant funding increase.

James Ingham-Hill expressed his ‘bitter disappointment’ over new government proposals that would see the secondary school lose £56,000 a year and argued savings expectations were ‘entirely unreasonable’.

The national ‘fairer funding’ formula was widely expected to boost money for the district, but teachers and councillors were left reeling last week when it emerged several schools will see funds cuts – with Sidmouth Primary School set to lose £50,000 under the changes.

East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire promised to stand up and fight for education funds in his constituency and said it was ‘completely unacceptable’ if the long-awaited formula actually resulted in schools being left worse off.

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Mr Ingham-Hill said: “We are bitterly disappointed to read of the likely outcome of the Government’s fairer funding proposals. An indicative table circulated by the Department for Education shows that of 39 secondary schools and academies in Devon, 26 would lose funds totalling £1,968,000 if the new formula was applied today. Thirteen schools would share gains of £865,000.”

The national funding shake-up was unveiled by education secretary Justine Greening in a bid to redistribute money across the country and put an end to ‘historic unfairness’.

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Mr Ingham-Hill said much of the emphasis in the proposed formula was on students’ deprivation and argued that while children from significantly deprived backgrounds did have additional needs, the cost of putting a teacher in front of a class was the same regardless.

He added: “The formula also leans heavily towards measures of prior attainment. Devon has a high standard of pupil attainment in primary schools, so the county’s secondary schools will also lose out from a formula that penalises this success. Salaries are around 80 per cent of most schools’ expenditure and the Government’s expectation that schools can save significant amounts of money from ‘efficiencies’ after six years of flat - effectively cut - funding is entirely unreasonable.

“Without a significant rise in funding over the next few years, class sizes will need to rise to unprecedented levels and standards are bound to fall in all underfunded areas of the country.”

Sir Hugo said: “We have all been campaigning for so long for fairer funding. If, as a result of this, we do end up worse off, it’s completely unacceptable. I would stand up for my constituency and I’m sure Devon MPs will do the same.

“I cannot see how it’s fairer if our schools are being discriminated against.”

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