Since I became the proud Member of Parliament for Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough two years ago, teachers and parents have contacted me about the severe challenges facing our local schools. I have listened to their stories about impossible teacher workloads, increasing class sizes and lack of provision for the least privileged children. I am extremely grateful for the input of those teachers and parents. On being re-elected last year, I vowed to renew my efforts to hold the Government to account for their shambolic approach to our children’s education.
I have spoken out about how the Government have cut school budgets by £2.8 billion in real terms since 2015; about how local schools have had to forgo residential trips, breakfast clubs, after-school activities and extra learning opportunities for underperforming pupils; and about how schools in Sheffield and across the UK are so cut to the bone that they are now having to let teachers go, as well as teaching assistants and support staff—people needed to support our most struggling students.
Now, as the national funding formula’s “redistribution” leaves Sheffield with the worst schools funding of all the major cities in England, I am outraged. Under the current Government budget, schools in the city will receive £743 per pupil less than Manchester in the next academic year. But this is not a matter of taking from Peter to pay Paul, but one of fair funding for all—from Sheffield to Slough, from Manchester to Maidenhead. Headteachers in Sheffield have openly said that they will struggle to keep schools operating to their current standards.