TEACHERS say West Oxfordshire schools are battling ‘unsustainable’ budget pressures and could have to make cuts as breaking point looms.

Leaders of neighbouring schools have warned parents that pupils’ education could suffer in the next couple of years unless the government listens to concerns about rising costs.

As reported in last week’s Witney Gazette, the 17 schools under the Witney Partnership of Schools have written to parents encouraging them to lobby Witney MP Robert Courts on the issue of school funding.

Headteachers of two of the schools have now spoken to the Gazette to reveal the extent of the strain, saying that staff are having to do ‘more than ever’ to protect children’s education.

Also read: School could finish early on Fridays to save money

A statement from Debbie Davies, of Hailey CE Primary School, and Tim Edwards-Grundy, of The Blake CE Primary School, said: “There are real threats to staff wellbeing and retention as schools are expected to do significantly more, with more children and fewer resources at their disposal.

“Schools are already having to make decisions such as further cuts to staff budgets, a narrowing of curricular activities or reductions in the timetabled school week.”

Mrs Davies and Mr Edwards-Grundy said their schools had maintained high standards only due to staff ‘taking the strain,’ but that parents should be made aware of the struggle.

Their statement added: “This is not a situation that can be sustained and therefore now is the time for us to encourage parents to take action.

“In one to two years the impact of ongoing cuts will become more evident to parents and pupils, and beyond the capacity of staff to moderate.”

Paired with pressures in other areas such as children’s mental health, social care and special needs services, they predicted the impact on schools would be ‘intensified.’

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Both heads accused politicians of ‘cherry-picking statistics to make a political point’, rather than reflecting reality.

They said: “Whilst we recognise that the total spend on education in England is, as the government has stated, now at an all-time high, the UK statistics network has scolded the government for headlines that mask the whole picture.

“Since 2010 the number of children in state-funded schools has increased by nine per cent which, coupled with inflation, means that schools now only receive as much per pupil income in real terms as they did in 2009.

“This amounts to an eight per cent reduction in funding – the biggest funding cut for over 30 years.

“This is exacerbated by the requirement for schools do more now than ever given the cuts to other essential frontline children’s services and the rise in employment costs.”

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The heads are not alone in their concerns, with schools across the county caught up in the crisis.

Wheatley Park School near Oxford is considering finishing early on Fridays to save money, while Lord Williams’s’ School in Thame is campaigning to raise £85,000 in parent donations.

School funding has been a topic discussed by candidates in the Conservative leadership race this week, with various competing promises as campaigners push for change.

A new formula is being phased in to address a ‘postcode lottery’ for school funding, with Oxfordshire one of the counties which historically received less funding than its counterparts elsewhere, but many heads report that their schools are yet to any benefit from the revised system.

Yesterday the Institute for Fiscal Studies said a one-off increase of £3.8bn would be needed to reverse cuts in per-pupil school spending, plus a further £1.1bn each year up until 2023 to maintain spending in real terms.