East London school asks Children in Need for funding because of shortfall after budget cuts


Anger is mounting after it was revealed that a school in east London has been forced to apply to Children in Need to make up the shortfall left by cuts in Government funding.

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An MP said it was “shameful” that cuts from the Government meant Ilford’s Downshall Primary School had had to turn to a charity to support its disadvantaged pupils.

The funding plea comes after the school had to let go of its two pastoral support workers due to budget restrictions. It has also had to cut back on reading support assistants and specialist PE staff, The Guardian reports.

Funding from Children in Need, the BBC charity that helps disadvantaged young people, would pay for pastoral care for three years.

‘Shameful’

Ilford South’s Change UK MP, Mike Gapes, said it was shocking a school in his constituency had to ask a charity for money because of “inadequate funding by the Conservative Government and Redbridge Labour Council”.

Wes Streeting, the Labour MP for Ilford North, said the situation was “shameful”.

“That schools are forced to turn to charity because of budget cuts is outrageous in one of the world’s richest economies. This is the consequence of Tory cuts. Shameful.”

It is believed that Mayespark Primary School in Ilford has already won funding from Children in Need.

Mike Gapes (Photo: Parliament)
Mike Gapes said he was shocked a school in his constituency had had to ask for funding (Photo: Parliament)

‘Children won’t get support they need’

Ian Bennett, headteacher at Downshall Primary School, said he had never had to ask a charity to fund the school before.

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“To have no pastoral support is awful. To lose two reading support workers is criminal. These children are not going to get the support they need,” he told the newspaper.

A proportion of Downshall’s pupils are refugees or from disadvantaged backgrounds. The school cannot ask parents for financial help.

“We have to start looking elsewhere. The trouble is, when you cut back, you have got less time to do these things. That’s why we are looking to the charity sector to fund the school sector,” said Mr Bennett.

However, Children in Need has indicated that its funding is not intended to plaster over Government cuts. Rather it should be used for projects that will help disadvantaged pupils.

Schools up and down the country have reported funding shortages, leading to budget cuts and a lack of resources. In April, the Department for Education’s (DfE) head of funding admitted that school budgets for the year were not generous enough and that the department would lobby the Treasury for more money.

Ministers have said school funding will be addressed in the next spending review.

Children in Need funding

The full Children In Need 2018 line-up has been revealed (Photo: BBC)
Children In Need 2018 raised over £50m (Photo: BBC)

“Schools are able to apply for funding to deliver projects that will make a tangible difference to children and young people who are facing disadvantages. However, we do not provide grants for work which statutory bodies such as schools or local authorities have a duty to fund,” Children in Need told i in a statement.

“Schools applying for funding must demonstrate how their project will provide additional services that are beyond the state’s responsibility. These projects normally take place outside of school time, before or after school, during lunch or in the holidays, unless there are exceptional circumstances.”

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“We are currently funding 52 projects based within schools across the UK which represents 2 per cent of our active portfolio. This includes a variety of projects including breakfast clubs, after school clubs and holiday playschemes.”

The DfE told The Guardian: “While we recognise that schools have faced budgeting challenges, school funding in England is at its highest ever level. Under the national funding formula, Downshall primary school has attracted 2.5 per cent more funding per pupil this year, compared to 2017-18. This is equivalent to an extra £101 per pupil.

“The education secretary has set out his determination to work with the sector to help schools ensure that every pound is spent as effectively as possible to give children a great education. He has also made clear that as we approach the next spending review, he will back headteachers to have the resources they need to deliver a world-class education.”



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