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Cheshire West schools could be hit by massive £22m cuts plan

Days in classroom could be reduced from five to four to save money

(Image: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire)

Schools in Cheshire West will be hit by £22m funding cuts equal to 600 teaching posts with talk of chopping the working week to just four days.

Such fears have been raised by teaching unions who have created a website allowing people to look up the impact on their local school. Click here to search for your school.

Unions including the NUT, ATL and NAHT claim the government’s proposed national funding formula will leave borough schools struggling to keep their doors open.

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Blacon High School would be among the worst hit by the proposed cuts

Labour-controlled Cheshire West and Chester Council education authority bosses are equally concerned and won’t rule out fewer classroom days if the cuts continue.

But ministers say the proposed changes would resolve ‘unfair’ and ‘inconsistent’ funding.

Among the biggest concerns is around the proposed National Funding Formula (NFF) but the union figures also allow for inflation and other cost increases.

Helsby High School

Using Department for Education data, it is estimated Cheshire West will lose £22,232,000 by 2019/20, representing a cut of £521 per pupil equivalent to the loss of 596 teachers.

Among the worst hit West Cheshire schools are:

Blacon High – £367,739 cuts or £933 per pupil equal to nine teachers

Neston High – £886,182 cuts or £668 per pupil equal to 24 teachers

Tarporley High – £579,965 cuts or £636 per pupil equal to 15 teaching posts

■ Wolverham Primary and Nursery School in Ellesmere Port – £186,588 cuts or £933 per pupil equal to five teaching posts

Christleton High – £680,413 cuts or £661 per pupil equal to 19 teaching posts

Utkinton St Paul’s C of E Primary, near Tarporley – £63,851 cuts or £1,064 per pupil equal to two teaching posts

Frodsham CE Primary – £85,422 cuts or £413 per pupil equal to two teachers

Overleigh St Mary’s CE Primary, Handbridge – £166,956 cuts or £408 per pupil equal to four teachers

Helsby High – £587,493 cuts or £552 per pupil equal to 14 teachers

■ Parklands Community Primary School in Ellesmere Port – £154,049 cuts or £917 per pupil equal to four teachers

Chester teacher and NUT divisional secretary Greg Foster

NUT divisional secretary Greg Foster, a teacher at Upton-by-Chester High School, said it had already been reported that Cheshire East headteachers were considering four-day weeks and the use of online teaching.

He said: “Cheshire West and Chester is facing exactly the same crisis and headteachers could well be forced to close their schools for one day a week because there is no money to keep them open.

“The only other option is to make staff redundant.

“Children could be taught in classes with no limit to the number of children in them!”

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Cllr Nicole Meardon (Lab, Sutton), cabinet member for children and families at CWaC, is equally worried.

She told The Chronicle: “Headteachers are really concerned. Nobody has said to me they are looking at four days a week but if these cuts continue we couldn’t rule it out.”

Cllr Meardon has written to secretary of state for education Justine Greening and MPs including Chester MP Chris Matheson and her MP husband Justin Madders, who represents Ellesmere Port and Neston.

CWaC councillor Nicole Meardon and her husband Justin Madders, MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston

She claims Cheshire West already receives about £400 less per pupil than the national average.

“Our schools are already facing real-term cuts to their funding, with increased costs and inflation making it difficult for some schools to manage budgets.

“Cuts to various sources of local government funding will also impact on the services provided to schools such as educational welfare,” she added.

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Justine Greening, secretary of state for education and minister for women and equalities

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “The proposals we are currently consulting on will mean an end to the postcode lottery in school funding and will help to create a system that funds schools according to the needs of their pupils rather than where they happen to live.

“Under the proposed national schools funding formula, more than half of England’s schools will receive a cash boost in 2018-19.

“Funding every child fairly and according to their specific needs sits at the heart of delivering the government’s pledge to build a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.”

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