Letters Extra: Plea for more funding for Manchester High Schools

4th April 2003 at 01:00

Manchester high school headteachers wish to raise your awareness and leave you in no doubt that despite the government promise that education is a priority we are now faced with a very serious reduction in funding. The promise that in total more money would be put into all education authorities is not the case.

The budget settlement for Manchester High Schools has substantial implications for education in Manchester and works against all that has been achieved over the recent years by staff, students and governors. Due to funding changes, the cessation of specific Standards Fund grants and substantial increases in expenditure which are not fully funded, particularly for teaching staff salaries, almost all Manchester High Schools will not be able to set a balanced school budget, with deficits accruing to hundreds of thousands of pounds in almost every circumstance.

The enormous reduction in high school funding this year has made it impossible, even for schools with healthy budgets, to avoid moving into serious deficit in the coming financial year. This is not a reasonable or acceptable way to treat our high schools. We should not be forced into a position where we suddenly have to cope with the implications of massive deficits.

The chaos created by this situation will result in Manchester Local Education being deemed an authority spiralling into decline and requiring central government intervention. The Authority does not meet floor targets currently; with large deficit budget the impact on the quality of educational provision in Manchester will be considerable.

Headteachers will be letting all Manchester parents know the situation we are facing and voicing our concerns in order that Education can be considered during forthcoming local elections and eventually general elections. We ask you as elected councillors and MPs to urgently address this issue in your relevant capacities. In past years, Manchester City Council has been imaginative in resolving funding difficulties and there must be strategies which can be urgently employed which will go a long way to resolve this desperate situation.

We ask that all ward councillors and constituency MPs, as a matter of urgency, contact their local high schools to discuss the full impact of the budget situation. As representatives of the community it is imperative that you act now. The groundswell of unease amongst schools and parents might have major impact on local and national government.

Manchester High School headteachers have worked tirelessly to improve their success and the life chances of young people. Our work, however, is being undermined by false promises and short term thinking. We are all the guardians of future generations who could have benefited by imaginative Government plans. If funding is withdrawn, lives and opportunities will be wasted.

R J Pemberton
Plant Hill High School


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