Scope of Wigan school cash cuts finally revealed
The scale of the funding cuts faced by the borough's schools has finally been laid bare.
A huge and detailed table shows how schools across Wigan will have been affected financially over a five-year period by 2020.
The picture in the borough is universally bleak as every single one of more than 100 schools included in the union-compiled data faces some sort of axe taken to the amount of money they have to spend.
However, some teachers are in more dire straits than others with some Wigan primary schools looking at reductions of £150,000 at more while the scale of losses in available cash at high school tops around £370,000.
The unions are now piling the pressure on the Department for Education (DfE), which sets school budgets, to prevent children’s learning suffering because there are not enough resources to go around.
The representatives of education professionals also attacked politicians who have attempted to discredit the data.
Max Atkins, Wigan National Union of Teachers (NUT) section branch secretary for the National Education Union (NEU), said: “Even though the Government is trying to say our figures are not valid the information has been checked by various independent organisations.
“I have been to more than 20 restructurings in the past couple of years and my counterpart at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has been to even more.
“Support staff and teachers are both losing their jobs. It’s not limited to one or the other categeory, it’s wherever they think they can make cuts. It’s completely unacceptable.
“Staff are also being told now that they will lose their jobs in September and that is creating a horrible air in schools. There is a lack of motivation and people feel let down by the system. It’s soul destroying.
“Ultimately it is the children who will lose out and that is ridiculous. They will not get the help from support staff they need, whether that is one-to-one or just from having another person in the classroom assisting groups, and class sizes are going to get better if staff are leaving at a time when pupils numbers are increasing because of the number of children in the borough.
“Everything is being compounded and getting worse.”
Anecdotal evidence that schools have been struggling have been circulating around the country for some time and the massive number-crunching effort by unions shows fears appear to be well founded.
Mr Atkins says the threats of year-on-year budget cuts are severely hampering schools attempting to draw up medium-term plans to take the institutions forward to 2020.
Although the NEU, which is in the process of amalgamating the NUT and ATL unions, is strictly non-partisan Mr Atkins urged Wiganers to use their votes in upcoming elections to back any parties promising to increase spending on schools.
Schools in Wigan doing the most difficult sums include Rose Bridge Academy in Ince, which is estimated to be losing a staggering £371,440 between 2015 and 2020.
Hawkley Hall High School is looking at a loss of £370,603 while Platt Bridge Community Primary School seems to have one of the biggest shortfalls of anywhere teaching youngsters aged four to 11, with £165,508.
Altogether Wigan’s schools will lose around £8.5m over the five-year period, which equates to a reduction of more than £200 per pupil.
Political voices are also being raised to do something about the funding crunch, including that of Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue.
She says cuts in the classroom could have an effect on young Wiganers throughout their entire lives.
Ms Fovargue said: “Schools have been doing all they can to shield their pupils from the damage caused by the Government’s decision to cut £2.8bn from school budgets since 2015 but this lack of investment is really starting to bite.
“Children and young people only get one chance at school and college and we know that education cuts never heal. As a country we should be investing in this and future generations of young people.
“I am calling on the Government to urgently address the funding crisis urgently and not continue to ignore these very real problems.”