Norfolk

Parents asked to paint school hit by budget cuts

Avenue Junior School sign
Image caption The school has organised a volunteering day for parents to help out

A primary school facing "substantial" budget cuts has asked parents to help out with summer maintenance jobs.

Avenue Junior School in Norwich wants volunteer painters, gardeners and decorators because of its "difficult financial situation".

Some parents say they are "furious" the school has had to ask for help, blaming government funding cuts to education.

The Department for Education (DfE) said funding for Norfolk schools had risen 3% since 2017-18.

In a letter sent to parents, head teacher Debbie Dismore said "all areas of school expenditure" had been cut back, including the budget for the upkeep of the school over summer.

Appealing to parents, she wrote: "Can you help us to make the school ready for September?"

'Sorry reflection'

Many parents have already signed up to volunteer over the August bank holiday weekend.

One, Rebecca Harris, who has two children at the 475-pupil school, said the community would "step up".

"But we are also furious about what austerity measures have done to real people at the grass roots of our education system," she said.

Hannah Colbourn, whose eight-year-old daughter Mollie attends the school, said: "My family will be volunteering but this is such a sorry reflection on the state of the education system that our school has had to resort to this."

Image copyright Colbourn family
Image caption Hannah and Kelvin Colbourn with daughters Mollie, eight, and Nell, five

The School Cuts website, maintained by the National Education Union, says Avenue Junior School received £234 less per pupil in 2019 than it did in 2015, a reduction of 5.5%.

Des Hart, of the union said: "There's just not enough money - the government are not providing the resources."

The Department for Education said: "Since 2017 we've given every local authority more money for five to 16-year-olds in every school and made funding fairer across the country.

"This year under the National Funding Formula, funding for schools in Norfolk has increased by 3% per pupil compared to 2017-18.

"This is equivalent to an extra £21.8m in total when rising pupil numbers are taken into account."

Image caption Avenue Junior School is rated Good by Ofsted and has 475 pupils

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