Funding row: ‘Wokingham’s schools are at breaking point’

THE education of pupils in Wokingham is being put at risk by unfair funding allocations, the organisers of a new campaign have warned.

Angry parents, teachers and headteachers are backing a petition for fairer funding for Wokingham’s schools after it was revealed that the borough receives the lowest amount of funding per pupil in the UK.

Campaigners Annabel Yoxall and Rachel Bradley have kick-started the campaign urging residents to lobby the council to push the issue of a fairer funding formula and take their petition to the government.

Rachel said: “Our schools deliver a high standard of education but receive the lowest level of funding in the country and additional money is needed now to prevent their financial position becoming unsustainable, as well as in the longer term when the national funding formula is introduced.

“Schools don’t have enough money to supply text books to every pupil, departments are being closed down and teachers are being made redundant. Our schools are at breaking point. They need to be brought in line with the rest of Berkshire with immediate effect and we need a guarantee that schools in our borough won’t be overlooked when it comes to the review of the fair funding formula.”

One parent of a secondary school pupil, who did not wish to be named, said they had to pay for their child’s art supplies and workbooks. They said: “Food Tech is also a bit of an issue as it is very hit and miss. They don’t have utensils for cooking so parents have to supply their own and their child has come home twice with an uncooked meal because there are not enough ovens. I am concerned that my child is not learning the whole process at school. Ingredients have to be weighed out at home as there are not enough scales at school.”

Teachers are also being forced to pay for their own supplies and regularly fear for their jobs according to one teacher, who again did not wish to be identified. They said: “I have been a teacher for near on 20 years and have worked in a few different boroughs during my career. Things have gradually got worse and worse and I’m now at the point where I’m worried for the future of my children in state education in this area.

“More and more experienced teachers are leaving as they are fed up with an unsustainable workload and lack of basic resources; replacements, when they can be found, are of varying calibre. Teachers are making do and using their own supplies and printing stuff at home to paper over the cracks, and teaching outside of their specialism. There is less and less choice in sixth form as subjects are cut.

“Classes are getting bigger and adding to the problem. I feel most Wokingham parents are oblivious, and the ones who do realise there is an issue don’t know the extent of it, or think it will be sorted by a few more funds from the PTA.

“I’m angry at the hand our children have been dealt but like many teachers scared to speak out. Redundancy seems like a real possibility. Experienced teachers cost too much – though they are what our schools need. This feels like a crisis.”

To sign the petition visit http://bit.ly/2gOXNIP.

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