‘Outraged’ Hatfield headteacher urges parents to contact MP over school money

PUBLISHED: 17:15 22 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:04 23 November 2018

Head of The Ryde School Sue Thompson with a letter she has penned to parents, encouraging them to write to Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps. Picture: DANNY LOO

Head of The Ryde School Sue Thompson with a letter she has penned to parents, encouraging them to write to Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2018 Archant

A Hatfield headteacher is so worried about cash-strapped schools that she’s asked parents to write to their MP.

Head of The Ryde School Sue Thompson. Picture: DANNY LOOHead of The Ryde School Sue Thompson. Picture: DANNY LOO

On November 7, the headteacher of the Ryde School in Hatfield, Mrs Sue Thompson, put pen to paper in protest at schools funding.

The final straw came when Chancellor Philip Hammond’s budget speech on October 29, pledged a one-off windfall of around £10,000 for primary schools and £50,000 for secondaries, for them to buy “the little extras they need”, as he put it.

But the budget did not include the level of core funding increase that many headteachers have been calling for.

The statement received a backlash on social media, with the hashtag #littleextras trending on Twitter after his speech.

Mrs Thompson, whose school is rated ‘good’ by Ofsted, wrote to parents: “I am outraged to think that a sum such as this can make amends for the savage cuts that have already been imposed on schools.”

She said she and other heads are appreciative of the £10,000 windfall, but pointed out that as a one-off she can’t use the money where it is needed most, such as in staffing. “It’s the core funding that needs to increase,” she told the Welwyn Hatfield Times.

She warned parents: “We have always had a healthy contingency fund and our budget has always been managed very efficiently.

“However, now I find that this contingency fund is needed to be spent on maintaining current staffing levels for this financial year.

“There will not be very much left to prop up next year’s budget. Many schools are running a deficit budget - and we are not far from that now.”

She called Mr Hammond “out of touch” and urged parents to write to Welwyn Hatfield’s MP, Grant Shapps.

“I’m just finding it very difficult to understand a government that does not want to invest in the next generation,” she said to the WHT. “The cuts have been severe.”

Mr Shapps, whose own children attend a state school, said that he would like to meet Mrs Thompson to discuss the situation.

Heads have also takens exception to Philip Hammond’s statement that the government is spending “record amounts” on schools.

The headteachers have pointed out that there’s also record numbers of pupils, and extra responsibilities.

Speaking in support of the headteachers’ protest march earlier this autumn, Mrs Theodora Nickson of Bishop’s Hatfield Girls’ School said: “The Government keeps saying that there has never before been as much money put into education. I agree, but there has never before been as many school children.

READ MORE: Headteachers across Welwyn Hatfield and Potters Bar support Downing Street protest

“We’ve got far more children going through the system and there hasn’t been the proportional increase in the funding,” continued Mrs Nickson.

Mr Shapps said: “I know that whilst more money than ever before is going into our schools, there are nonetheless significant pressures at this time.

“I am particularly concerned to see that this record school budget is fairly distributed in order to ensure that schools in Welwyn Hatfield get their fair share.

“I am in no doubt that as we’ve fought our way back from the record deficit of the great recession that threatened to topple our economy.

“I am very keen to ensure that our children get the education they deserve and our country will need them to receive.”

On October 8, Sir David Norgrove, the head of the UK Statistics Authority, wrote to the education minister Damian Hinds lambasting the Department for Education for publicising figures that misrepresented the extent of schools funding.

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