CAMPAIGNING students have taken politics from their Bognor Regis classrooms into the community.
The concerned pupils joined together to send an open letter yesterday to town MP and school standards minister Nick Gibb to warn him about the ‘terrifying’ cutbacks faced by the area’s schools.
The group’s spokesman, Felpham Community College pupil Peter Reavey, says they want to meet him to get answers about the low level of funds which has left schools and colleges in West Sussex starved of cash.
Peter, 15, said the shortage of money was starting to have a huge impact on schools around Bognor Regis.
“Our head teachers are doing a fantastic job keeping the schools going and keeping us learning. But now money is getting really, really desperate and there is no end in sight,” he said.
The group of nine students attend colleges in Mr Gibb’s Bognor Regis and Littlehampton constituency. eir intervention backs the WorthLess? campaign which was launched last year to highlight the situation which sees schools in the county get £20m a year less from the government than average.
Leaders of the campaign have met the government’s education secretary, Justine Greening, to emphasise their call for fairer treatment. e open letter from the students adds to this action and asks Mr Gibb:
“Why are school students in Bognor Regis and Littlehampton – and the rest of West Sussex – worth less than school students nearly everywhere else in England?
“You know that our schools get £400 per child per year less than the average for England outside London. In other words, West Sussex schools get £20m a year less than average.
“Our headteachers are doing a fantastic job. ey have become experts at saving money at the same time as delivering a really good education.
“Teachers and students have got used to bigger classes, leaking roofs and broken computers that won’t be replaced – and somehow we still learn.
“But now it is getting really, really desperate. Our head teachers have tried to warn you about the increasing risks to our education into the future.
“Now it is our turn as school students to support their WorthLess? campaign. We don’t want to start a different campaign. We just need our head teachers to be taken seriously.
“At the moment, our schools are deciding on their budgets for next year. Every school we have talked to in Bognor Regis and Littlehampton has plans that are terrifying to us as school students.
“For example, there are plans to:
- Drop essential subjects from the
- Not replace teachers;
- Remove support staff who enable
students with special needs and
disabilities to thrive at schools;
- Reduce counselling and pastoral
- Increase class sizes; and
- Send some classes home at lunch
time because there will not be
“We know that the new funding formula could make things fairer eventually – but it will be years before funding for West Sussex schools matches other parts of the country.
“Many of us will have left school by then! If you recognise there is a really serious problem, why not ll the funding gap now?
“Even with the new funding formula, our schools will probably have no more money to spend anyway, because of the new rules making them pay extra costs towards National Insurance, pensions and some other costs.
“And West Sussex will stay as one of the worst funded areas – 148th out of 151. So can you please explain to us why we continue to be WorthLess?”
The students have asked Mr Gibb to meet them – and their families and supporters – later this month to talk to them to explain the funding shortfall.
“Some of us will bring our own examples of how the unfair funding is a ecting us as school students,” said Peter. His fellow campaigners are Ed, Harry, Jasmine, Jess, Joe, Kieran, Liberty and Theveenah.
Mr Gibb said he would be pleased to meet the students. e new funding formula would see West Sussex schools receive 3.5 per cent extra funding.
“Schools in Bognor Regis and Littlehampton will receive a cash boost of some £1.5m. Of schools in the constituency, 81.8 per cent will see a rise in funding as a resuilt of the new formula,” he said.
This would help to overcome the past unequal funding situation.