SCHOOLS around Swindon have struggled to cope with a severe lack of funding over the last few years.

The government published information on how a much-needed £2.6bn cash injection for educational facilities would be shared between Swindon schools next year.

But some say that this new funding would not even be enough to cover the damage that has already been done or keep up with rising costs.

Royal Wootton Bassett Academy headteacher George Croxford said: "It does pull it back a bit but does not make up for it entirely. The problem is that what has been proposed is all a bit too late.

"It's an ongoing nightmare. Funding is so tight at the moment that schools across the board have had to make cuts, not replace teachers, and other horrendous things.

"We've had to narrow the curriculum and increase class sizes, like every other school, it's been really hard.

"They expect schools to keep improving without giving them enough funding to do so. Whoever wins this election needs to start providing more resources and funding for public services.

"Then we can concentrate on doing our jobs instead of figuring out how on Earth we are going to make the pennies count."

Assistant secretary of the National Education Union’s Swindon branch Peter Smith said: “We have been campaigning over underfunding in all levels of education for years. It’s become obvious, even to the government, that it’s unsustainable so they have promised extra cash.

“The Stop the Cuts campaign and all the unions have worked out that the cuts have been so severe and extreme that what has been promised won’t be enough to make up the deficit by 2020/21.

“Teachers are trying to make ends meet but the ends will not meet and this needs to be put right because the entire profession is in crisis."

The School Cuts campaign claims that 83 per cent of schools in England will have less money next year than in 2015, even with the extra money pledged taken into account.

Minutes from the last Schools Forum meeting between staff and representatives from schools around town revealed a cause for concern.

The latest projection on the 2019-20 retained dedicated schools grant budget for Swindon schools is expected to be £1.573 million above the estimated budget and a deficit of £1.275m needs to be mitigated.

This deficit was the result of the increasing demand for special educational needs top-ups and costs of post-16 and post-19 placements.

Teaching staff have lobbied the government for years to receive more cash to support their schools as class sizes have often risen without an equivalent increase in funds and some schools now have to close early on Fridays.

The government pledged to increase school spending nationwide over the next three years and raise the schools budget to £52.2 billion by the end of this time period, starting with a £2.6 billion investment in 2020/21.

The government called it ‘the largest cash boost in a generation’.

Cash is allocated using the National Funding Formula, which takes into account factors such as size of school and demographics, as well as historic funding levels to ensure that schools get a minimum amount of money per pupil.

Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for finance, education and skills Russell Holland said: “I’m aware that the teaching profession as a whole has been under pressure and they have been doing a very good job at managing as best they can.

“The government’s announcements of extra funding are welcome and should reduce that pressure.

“Some pressures will remain, like funding for special educational needs, and there will be ongoing challenges but this is a step in the right direction.

“There are always going to be arguments around statistics and school funding is bound to be a controversial subject but my view is that the government has been getting its finances in order and I’m optimistic about the future.”

Teachers worn down by finances - Labour candidate

LABOUR’S Parliamentary candidate for South Swindon Sarah Church has spoken out about the immense pressures that teachers face in their jobs.

She said: “I’ve been chatting to teachers on the doorstep. Many of them don’t have the resources to do their jobs properly and ensure that every child has a good education.

“Teachers work extra hours or supply some essential resources themselves, which they shouldn’t have to do, and they feel like this dedication is being abused and that their morale has been worn down.

“Teaching assistants are concerned about funding for pupils with special educational needs and the number of TAs that are being cut.

“This is important because one-to-one sessions between SEN pupils and teaching assistants are vital to helping these pupils stay in mainstream education.

“During the last election, parents told me they were paying monthly subsidies for school supplies.

“Everybody’s local school should be a good school, no matter where they live in Swindon, and this should be a government priority with continuous funding year-on-year in line with inflation rather than just a pre-election promise.

“One teacher told me it was like having someone borrow £150 from you then pay £100 back over several years.

“I’ve been a governor for my daughters’ school for years and schools are not in a position to say they have everything they need but instead talk about how well they are doing in spite of their budgets.”

'This is a really important issue to me'

Robert Buckland hailed the government’s commitment to increasing school funding.

The Conservative candidate for south Swindon is currently campaigning to keep his seat as MP for the area.

He said: “As a parent of children who go to state schools locally, this is a really important issue to me.

“Swindon has fantastic state schools where local children are educated by dedicated, professional teachers and support staff who do an excellent job.

”Labour’s funding formula led to drastic cuts in the budgets of Swindon’s schools during their years of power.

“In contrast, the Conservatives are increasing funding in primary and secondary schools by £14 billion so that every child can get a good education.

“We will lift per pupil funding to a minimum of £5,000 for secondary school pupils next year and £4,000 for primary school pupils by 2021-22.

“In addition, we will provide £780 million more for children with special educational needs and disabilities next year.

“In this election, we need to crack on and get Brexit done, so we can focus on our schools, our hospitals and our criminal justice system.

“These are the priorities that people are talking to me about on the doorsteps of South Swindon as I campaign.”

The funding package for schools includes £2.6 billion for 2020-21, £4.8 billion for 2021-22, and £7.1 billion for 2022-23 compared to 2019-20.

This will bring the schools budget to £52.2 billion in 2022-23