HEADTEACHER Mark Anstiss is to join the country’s biggest protest of his colleagues to call for more cash from the government.
Mr Anstiss, of Felpham Community College, will be among 1,000 heads from 40 local authorities as far apart as Cornwall, Cumbria and Northern Ireland meeting in London next Friday. They will gather in Parliament Square as part of the WorthLess? campaign event and march to 11 Downing Street to hand in a forceful letter to the Chancellor, Philip Hammond.
He said: “This is an unprecedented event. It’s uncommon for headteachers to take to the streets but we feel it’s important for people to know about the situation. I’ve been in education for 30 years. It is the first time I’ve known this number of headteachers get together. This is not a union-led protest. This has come from all of us.
“It shows that different heads from different schools around the country are all feeling the same.
“We are facing huge challenges as a country as we come out of the EU and our schools need to be properly funded if we want to give our pupils a world class education.”
Mr Anstiss has been in charge of the college for eight years. In that time, his annual budget has stayed static at £6.5m but the college has grown by just over 100 students to 1,370.
The number of full-time equivalent teachers has dropped to 75 from 82 to mean bigger class sizes. In addition, its National Insurance and pension contributions have increased to add to the squeeze on its budget.
A new schools’ funding formula failed to address the inequalities of how government money was given to schools, said Mr Anstiss.
As a result, the best funded schools still receive 70 per cent more than those in West Sussex. The county has kept its place near the foot of the funding table.
The lack of funds was worsened by a recruitment crisis nationally.
Felpham is benefiting from an £11.5m building project funded by West Sussex County Council to enable the college to cope with the growing number of families in the area.
Mr Anstiss said: “The council recognises there will be a need for more places in the future. The new facilities should hopefully be open next autumn. They will enable us to get rid of temporary buildings which have been here for 25 years.”
Work has started on the expansion. Its main feature will be a three-storey block. The ground floor will feature three music rooms with a recording studio, a large drama studio, two food rooms, two rooms for woodworking, three classrooms and a meeting room.
The first floor will contain two graphics and textiles rooms and five computing ones. Business studies and modern foreign languages classrooms will be on the second floor.
Two new science labs will also be added to the current science department and the PE changing block enlarged with an extra floor.