Letter: Rebecca Elliott February 13, 2018

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During the general election, Elizabeth Truss MP claimed that no school in our area would have their budget cut. This was despite the fact that Hillcrest issued a letter to parents in April last year outlining cuts of £44,000.

I wrote to her. In her reply, dated July 7, she states: “The Secretary of State has been clear that no school will have its budget cut as a result of the new national funding formula. I am encouraged that the core schools budget has been protected in real terms since 2010.”

At the moment inflation is running at 3%. Over two years a school would need an above 6% increase to remain static. So, whilst schools are going to be receiving more pounds, their budgets are generally not going to increase by anything like the amount needed to cope with inflation. This is, in real terms, a cut. Elizabeth also sent me information from Norfolk County Council confirming that Hillcrest will receive £19,980 more in 2018/19 than in 2017/18. On the surface Elizabeth is correct to say that they will be receiving more money. What she will not say is that a 1.2% increase will not allow the school’s spending to keep up with inflation and is therefore a real terms cut.

Freedom of Information figures relating to Downham Market Academy are of serious concern. They indicate a budget reduction over three years of £883,000. In a letter to your paper, dated November 3, 2017, a reader suggested that Downham parents should be worried about plans to sell off the sixth form. She was right to do so. Whilst the idea was dismissed by the headteacher, it simply is not possible to save sums of that magnitude by switching to an alternative stationary supplier. Information on the www.schoolcuts.org.uk website indicates that, by 2020, 366 of the 402 schools in Norfolk will have experienced real terms budget cuts.

Elizabeth Truss is either not understanding the figures, ignoring the figures or understands them perfectly well but is seeking to mislead us.