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(UK) Newcastle schools desperate for supplies; kids are 'coming with more complex needs'

Dec 14, 2018, Newcastle Chronicle: Desperate teachers turn to parents for help as 'funding crisis' means education is being 'compromised' https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/desperate-teachers-turn-parents-help-15522804 Parents paying for essential textbooks, bigger classes taught in crumbling classrooms - and the most vulnerable children no longer safe in schools. These are the dire consequences Gateshead head teachers warn could come about if their schools aren't given more Government funding. Heads of schools across the borough have written to parents, asking them to sign a petition demanding Parliament offer more money for education. The petition has gained over 20,000 signatures in less than two weeks and if it hits 100,000 will have to be debated in the House of Commons. Turning to parents for help in their funding campaign is an unusual step - but it's one local school leaders say they've been forced to take. Michelle Richards is head of Eslington and Furrowfield schools, both special schools in Gateshead. She says in 15 years of school leadership she's always been able to balance the books - until now. ... "Four out of the six special schools in Gateshead made redundancies [cutting staff] in 2018," she said. "That's because we just couldn't get our budgets to work. We've cut everything we could, and now we've had to cut staff. … "All the special schools in Gateshead are good or outstanding, we have a really high-quality provision, but to maintain that with less money and fewer staff, we will end up stretching the staff we have too far: this funding crisis is not sustainable." Schools like hers which support "the most vulnerable children" could be forced to have bigger classrooms with less individual support for each child, she warned. This could have consequences not only for education, but for safety. Mrs Richards said: "Children are coming to us with more complex needs, we're being squeezed at all ends. "One school I'm aware of can no longer afford a school nurse - teachers are expected to carry out more and more invasive medical procedures…. He said: "I honestly think that unless things change soon, education will get dramatically worse. As head teachers, we thought it was important to raise awareness and ask parents to support us…. The Department for Education says per-pupil funding has increased for schools - but in their letter to parents, the heads called the Government's picture of school funding "misleading, over optimistic and inaccurate". They claim schools have had to content with a 20% increase in costs, while receiving only a "very small" increase which they say has "not closed the gap". …