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Crawley Headteacher pleads with parents to challenge election candidates over school funding

Michael Ferry, who is Headteacher of St Wilfrid’s school in Crawley, has penned a letter to pupils parents encouraging them to seek answers over the problems of funding in education.

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Parents of pupils attending St Wilfrid’s school in Crawley have been sent a letter by the Headteacher Michael Ferry.

In his letter Mr Ferry asks parents to push all political candidates up for election in Crawley about funding issues for schools.

In his letter Mr Ferry says:

“St Wilfrid’s is a very successful school with a strong reputation within Crawley and West Sussex as a whole. Since 2015, I have been forced to make significant cutbacks in order to be able to set a “balanced budget” year on year.

The results of such cutbacks can be seen starkly in the reduction of the number of full time equivalent (FTE) teachers at the school; in 2014 we had 66, starting in September 2019 we had 55! Some of these reductions have been through a formal re-structuring process, others by deciding not to replace a teacher when they have left and some because there is simply a recruitment and retention crisis in the profession across a broad range of subjects.”

Referring to the upcoming election he says:

“In the coming weeks you will undoubtedly hear terms such as “more money in education than ever before!” and “levelling up” from current ministers and undoubtedly there will be “promises” from all parties in their manifestoes.

The reality is that I have to make savings year on year, as any increases in funding either real or projected are simply not enough to keep pace with the rises in costs.”

Mr Ferry finishes his letter with listing out four points he says he has identified to help inform parents and encourage a debate with candidates:

  1. Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND) The recent report from the Education Select Committee can be accessed via www.publications.parliament.uk/pa.cm201920/cmselect/cmednc/20/2003.htm
  2. Current announcements from Government promise an increase in funding of £2.6bn in 2020/21, £4.8bn in 2021/22 and £7.1bn in 2022/23. These are not adjusted for inflation and only represent increases in “cash terms”. Any future government would need to increase these figures significantly and ensure that future investments are protected against rising costs. As an example, the £7.1bn projected increase 2022/23 equates to a “real terms” increase of £4.3bn once you have factored in future cost pressures.
  3. Post 16 funding for Sixth Form students must be addressed. Despite the recent announcement of a small increase of funding per student, which is hugely welcomed, it will require significantly more investment in schools and Sixth Form Colleges to ensure that further cuts in the curriculum offer are not needed and that the breadth of subjects on offer can be rich and varied.
  4. There is a recruitment crisis in teaching across many subjects, especially in the cores subjects of Science and Maths, but also in many other areas including RE, MfL, Design Technology (including Food Technology), Computers Studies, in fact, trying to recruit in any subject is exceptionally difficult and increasingly becoming more expensive. As an example, FTE teacher numbers have fallen by over 10,000 in the last four years with almost a third of teachers leaving the profession within 5 years of qualifying. Any future government must set out clear plans to address this issue and ensure that sufficient real terms funding is made available as necessary eg. If any party “promises” to increase salaries for teachers to aid recruitment, it must also provide the year on year real terms funding for this.

You can read the full letter here by clicking here.

Charity

Crawley students show support for homeless charity

Crawley College students demonstrated their community spirit, with a donation to a local homeless charity earlier this month.

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The students, currently studying for their Access to HE Diploma in Nursing and Healthcare Professions, collected numerous essential items including food, toiletries and clothes, which they presented to Crawley Open House.

Lecturer Senzeni Kamere said:

“It was a great, thought-provoking experience for our healthcare students.

“As part of their course, it’s important for our students to think about vulnerable people in the community and how they might work with them in the future.

“The students went out of their way to support this much needed service, and some of them confessed that they themselves had been homeless at some point.

“They are now all ambassadors for Crawley Open House, wherever they go.” 

Ian Wilkins, fundraising and relationships manager for Crawley Open House, came into the college to receive the donations.

Ian said: “We are so grateful to Senzeni Kamere and the staff and students at Crawley College, both for facilitating the lecture on the issues around homelessness, and for their amazing and unexpected big donation of goods for the homeless and disadvantaged of Crawley and the surrounding area.

“On behalf of all those who will benefit, we want to say a massive thank you. We rely heavily on such generosity from the local community, and we never take it for granted.”

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