(UK) Schools desperate for cash ask parents for donations; funding needed for SPED

Mar 11, 2020, Independent: Schools forced to ask parents for money for classroom resources as funding cuts continue to bite
State school headteachers are asking parents to donate money in order to provide vital classroom resources and repair crumbling buildings. One school leader is even planning a skydive to raise funds for pupils, while a number of schools across the country are being forced to send children home at lunchtime on Fridays. Ahead of today’s Budget, schools have warned Boris Johnson that his funding pledge will not be enough to reverse years of cuts in some schools and it will barely cover all the costs they face. Unions say extra funding is needed to cover the higher pay rises for teachers introduced by the government, as well as provision for a growing number of pupils with special educational needs. The call comes as heads say they are still being forced to increase class sizes, cut subjects and shorten the school week despite the government’s promise of an extra £7.1bn [$9.1B US] in school funding by 2022/23. Every secondary school will receive at least £5,000 per pupil and every primary school will receive at least £3,750 per pupil as part of the government’s three-year package, which starts next month. … But Rachael Warwick, president of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and executive headteacher of three schools in Oxfordshire, does not think the funding pressures will go away. … “I think that will continue as there will still be serious pressures on school budgets. We will end up having to do things we would much rather not have to do,” she said. Bridget Harrison, head of the Rackham Church of England Primary School in Cambridgeshire, is resorting to a fundraising skydive because there isn’t enough cash for much-needed improvements at the school. … The head does not believe the government’s funding boost will cover all the cuts in recent years. “Schools have taken a lot of hits and lots of them are at the point of ‘enough is enough’,” she said. Hundreds of school leaders are coming together for ASCL’s annual conference in Birmingham on Friday – and education secretary Gavin Williamson is set to face questions about funding pressures. Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL, said the government’s funding pledge “is still a long way short of what is needed”, adding that it does not address the demand for special needs provision. He said: “The stark reality is that we will continue to see schools asking parents for voluntary contributions, shortened school weeks, and all the other manifestations of a public service which is inadequately funded unless the government makes the investment in education that is needed.” … “The most common themes are an utterly inadequate set of resources to meet the need of SEND children. They are and their families are being let down day in and day out.”… “We are also increasing high needs funding for local authorities by £780m next year, boosting the total budget for supporting those with the most complex needs by 12 percent to more than £7bn in 2020-21.”