Two Horsham school leaders have met to discuss the chronic underfunding of education and how their campaigns for significant extra spending by the Treasury can support one another.
Jules White, headteacher at Tanbridge House School, has been spearheading the Worth Less? campaign, which was initially only county-wide but now has national support.
Meanwhile Sally Bromley, principal at The College of Richard Collyer, is supporting the #raisetherate campaign, which is highlighting how sixth-form funding is in crisis.
Two deep cuts to funding were made after 2010 and the national funding rate for 16-and-17-year-olds has been frozen at £4,000 per student, per year since 2013.
Funding for 18-year-olds was cut to just £3,300 per student in 2014.
The running costs of schools and colleges have increased sharply since 2010 and the government has imposed a range of new requirements on institutions. This has left much less money for schools and colleges to spend on the front line education of students at a time when the needs of young people have become increasingly complex, for example the sharp rise in students experiencing mental health problems.
Research from London Economics has shown that the rate needs to increase by at least £760 per student per year to ensure that schools and colleges can continue to deliver a high quality, internationally-competitive education.
The campaign calls on the government to make two commitments in the 2019 spending review: Raise the rate for 16, 17 and 18 year old students to at least £4,760 per year and then raise it in line with inflation each year.
Ms Bromley said: “The ongoing underinvestment in sixth-form education is bad for students, bad for our international competitiveness and bad for social mobility. We are calling on the government to #raisetherate – before it’s too late.”
The Worth Less? campaign started in West Sussex as the area’s schools are some of the worst funded per pupil in the country.
The campaign has now gone national with around 2,000 headteachers marching on Downing Street in September to call for urgent Government action on the school funding crisis.
Reacting to the secretary of state’s announcement last month to increase funding for students with a special educational need, Mr White said: “The funding for both SEND and high needs pupils has been woefully lacking in recent years.
“Demand for local authority high needs funding has grown by 35 per cent in just four years whilst mainstream schools have seen their budgets savaged by eight per cent real terms cuts since 2010.
“As a consequence, the most vulnerable children and their families in our country have seen support stripped back beyond any reasonable levels and a ‘SEND crisis’ is upon us.”