Head laments staff axe in furore over budget cuts

St. Nicholas' CE Primary School headteacher Andy Mellor
St. Nicholas' CE Primary School headteacher Andy Mellor
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The headteacher of Blackpool’s only ‘outstanding’ mainstream school has written to the Government’s education leader warning budget cuts will devastate schools.

Andy Mellor, head at St Nicholas CE Primary in Marton, said his school has had to axe staff in a bid to save £100,000 from its budget.

In the letter to Justine Greening MP, he said his school’s progress cannot be maintained with such swingeing cuts and warned other schools will “struggle to survive”.

It comes after the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that spending per pupil is to fall 6.5 per cent by 2019-20 – the first-real term cuts since the mid-1990s.

Mr Mellor – who this week was named as the next national vice-president National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) - said: “I speak to many heads on a daily basis and they are all concerned that they will have to make cuts to staffing as a result of the real cut in the budgets that they have available.

“In the last two years we have had to trim over £100,000 from our £1.4m budget.

“This has seen us lose four teaching assistants, an assistant headteacher and £20,000 worth of speech and language therapy.

“All of these people helped us to achieve an outstanding grade for the first time in the school’s history last year.

“However, having made such good progress I know that the progress we have made is unsustainable into the future.

“It is yet another factor which is seeing good headteachers leave the profession and aspiring school leaders, preferring not to take up headship.

“Under the current government financial policy, schools will struggle to survive never mind compete to be the best in the world according to PISA.

“For us in Blackpool, we are seeing over £5m disappear from school budgets with £6m coming in for targeted projects under the Opportunity Area funding.

“However so many of these objectives revolve around school improvement, that cuts in funding available to schools, threatens to undermine any progress that the Opportunity Area project seeks to achieve.”

The Gazette reported last year how the Government had launched a £60m ‘Opportunity Area’ scheme to promote social mobility, supporting schools and links with employers.

The six areas were Blackpool, Derby, Norwich, Oldham, Scarborough and West Somerset.

Education services and businesses in the opportunity areas would work to “create the opportunities outside school that will raise sights and broaden horizons for young people”.

Schools in the “opportunity areas” would be partnered with successful schools and headteachers in other parts of the country, Ms Greening said.

But Mr Mellor said: “Opportunity Area funding is money poured into schools very publicly via the front door, only to be very quietly taken out of the back door leaving Blackpool schools in no better position to address social mobility.”

Mr Mellor has written to parents to advise them of how dire the situation is regarding school funding and would encourage those concerned to contact their local MPs.