PARENTS are once again battling to boost budgets for Oxfordshire’s cash-strapped schools, after a much-hyped funding change failed to solve the problem.

The new national funding formula officially came into force this month, billed as a historic reform that would replenish school funds and distribute cash more fairly.

But Oxfordshire County Council, parents and school staff claim the formula has barely had an impact.

Fair Funding for All Schools Oxfordshire has now backed a new campaign to make concerns known, encouraging schools to hang banners stating: “Schools in Oxfordshire still face -£10,104,637 in government cuts.”

Abingdon resident Helen Brockett, one of the parent-led campaign group’s members, said it is crucial to keep pressure on politicians to prioritise school funding.

Union-led website School Cuts predicts the county’s schools will be £10.1m poorer in ‘real terms’ by 2020 compared to in 2015, when factors such as inflation are considered.

Ms Brockett said: “I’m concerned teachers are overstretched and class sizes will get bigger.

“We have heard from other schools that when teaching assistants leave, they are not being replaced, and some classes are having to share.

“I’ve heard of schools asking parents for donations - you would hope as taxpayers that money would be used to fund education.”

The first banner was strung up at Carswell Community Primary School in Abingdon last week, where Ms Brockett’s son Adam is a pupil.

She said she hoped more schools would hang the banners, available freely via, to raise awareness.

In September then-education secretary Justine Greening confirmed plans for the national funding formula, describing it as a ‘decisive and historic move towards fair funding’.

The formula takes into account school characteristics such as level of deprivation and attainment, and is being phased in from this financial year.

The Department for Education (DfE) insists schools in Oxfordshire will gain three per cent extra funding on average under the formula, equivalent to £10.5m.

But county council spokesman Owen Morton said the authority is still lobbying for fairer funding.

He said: “The council has made clear to government its view that the recent changes to the national funding formula will not result in the county’s schools being significantly better off – either in real terms or relative to other parts of the country.

“Despite the introduction of a fairer funding formula across the country, schools in Oxfordshire will continue to receive less per pupil than most other parts of the country.”

At a meeting last month, the council’s cabinet member for education Hilary Hibbert-Biles told councillors: "I have just had a meeting with the DfE and they do acknowledge we [in Oxfordshire] are under-funded.

“The most important thing is that we have opened the dialogue and we have had that recognition."

Gawain Little, an Oxford primary school teacher, said schools and pupils are suffering under the pressure of stretched budgets.

The national executive member for the National Education Union said: “In attempt to defend the indefensible, the government is playing fast and loose with the figures.

“If the DfE is seriously claiming there is more money going into Oxfordshire’s schools, they need to sit down with headteachers and answer questions about why they are having to cut their budgets.”

Mr Little said there is currently a ‘massive retention crisis in teaching’, far worse in Oxfordshire because of house prices.

He added: “Teachers go into the job because they love the work they do, but when they are underpaid and their job is at risk because they don’t know if there is enough funding, and – most significantly – they don’t have adequate resources, it leads to people feeling frustrated and powerless.

“They feel like they can’t do what they need to support their students.”

He said he was increasingly hearing of schools letting staff go and restricting subjects.

He added: “The impact is going to be bigger class sizes, less support for children and a narrower curriculum.

“I know of primary schools cutting their music [department] completely, because that’s all they can afford.

“We are going to have a generation of children that has been fundamentally let down.”

Members of the union set up stalls in Oxford’s Bonn Square and Witney town centre the weekend before last, to protest against unfair school funding.

A long-serving teacher, who was among those in Witney, said: “I work in two schools in West Oxfordshire, and can attest to the dramatic changes that constant underfunding has caused.

“In my schools the last few years have seen reductions in allowances, increased class sizes, colleagues leaving to take up work in non-education posts, almost unbearable workloads, and increased stress.

“The real tragedy is the reduction in subjects being offered.

“School managers are being placed in an almost impossible situation and it is a testament to their efforts and the sheer hard work of teachers that my schools continue to provide such high-calibre educational opportunities.”

The DfE stressed it has invested an additional £1.3bn in school funding nationally, and that the national funding formula is based on individual needs and characteristics of every school in the country.