A collapse in Government funding for many Stourbridge schools has led to losses much higher than those previously forecast, according to newly released figures.
Amongst the hardest hit is Thorns Collegiate Academy where an earlier official estimate of a £54,000 funding shortfall has been revised upwards to nearly £536,000 since 2015.
The year-on-year reductions in central government money allocations to the Academy – formerly Thorns Community College – mean that cutbacks per pupil have grown from a projected £55 each to an actual £213, while class sizes have increased.
The long-resisted release of figures by the Department for Education (DfE) that have exposed the actual scale of local cuts came just days before Stourbridge MP Margot James was due to host a jobs fair for over-16 leavers at Thorns.
The MP did not attend the event, Tweeting an apology for her absence and citing a need to stay at the House of Commons for votes connected with Brexit.
Ms James has previously voted to end financial support for some 16-19 year olds to continue their further education. She has also repeatedly backed increasingly severe local public service funding cuts each year since she was elected.
Even worse off than Thorns after funding cuts since 2015 are two other high-profile schools in the town: King Edward VI College is the biggest loser, down £681,810 which is a loss of £364 per pupil. In Wollaston, Ridgewood High School is losing £579,905 against what it needed just to stand still – down £277 per pupil.
Also in serious straits is the previously red-flagged Redhill Academy where Ms James was formerly an associate governor and which the new figures show has lost £681,363 in funding – a shortfall of £215 for each student since 2015.
In her honorary role as an associate governor, Ms James showcased the former Redhilll School to fellow MPs and Ministers as a conversion-to-academy success story. It won an on-stage ovation for the head teacher and pupil representatives at the 2015 Conservative party conference in Birmingham.
Ms James stepped down from her role on the school’s board of governors before a then-£300,000 underfund estimate was declared, four months ahead of her re-election as Member of Parliament for Stourbridge for the third time in 2017.
Other schools that Ms James has fostered ties with have also fared badly under the Government’s austerity-driven education spending regime.
Hob Green Primary School in Wollescote is £404,395 down since 2015, with its above average sized classes losing £695 per pupil – one of the biggest losses of all.
Brook Primary School in Audnam has lost a total of £305,580 over the past four years, with each pupil bearing a £374 penalty.
Wollescote Primary School is down £293,852 over the past four years, with the per-pupil funding allocation down £317 each.
Withymoor Primary School, the 2017 winner of the MP’s Christmas card competition has seen the DfE’s previous estimate of a near-£100,000 shortfall climb to an actual funding reduction of £273,958, £302 less for every pupil.
Amblecote Primary School has lost out on £184,999 since 2015, with funding for each pupil down £280.
Details for all other local schools and academies can be searched for at the schoolcuts website.
The new figures for these and other Stourbridge schools and academies have been uncovered by independent analysts Methodology who were commissioned by the campaigning schoolcuts research unit. (Click on the schoolcuts link to search for other local schools’ details)
The analysts used data that was released by the DfE after increasing pressure from teachers unions and parent groups.
Posting the revised figures, National Education Union deputy leader Kevin Courtney said: “We’ve updated the data, checked it, double checked and checked again. I’m afraid it’s right, and the story the numbers tell chimes with the stories we’ve been hearing from local communities all over the country.”
According to the revised figures, 95 out of 97 schools in the Dudley borough are losing a total of £27 million by 2020, with the average loss per pupil working out at £217 each.
The news of the cuts’ impact came in the same week that hundreds of councillors wrote to Education Secretary Damian Hinds to protest that parents are having to bail out their schools for basics like toilet rolls while some headteachers are shutting their schools one day a week because money has run out.
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