Tyne & Wear

MPs to debate Gateshead head teacher's school funding petition

School children
Image caption Head teachers say they are having to balance the costs of extra classes, with the cost of staffing, equipment and even maintenance

A petition started by a head teacher in Gateshead demanding more funding for schools is to be debated in Parliament.

Andrew Ramanandi, head of St Joseph's Primary School in Blaydon, says trying to "make ends meet" with the budget is "verging on almost impossible".

The government said it had "increased funding by an extra £1.3bn across this year and next".

MPs will discuss the online petition, which attracted more than 100,000 signatures, on Monday.

Balancing the books

Mr Ramanandi, said: "It's very much a national petition. I think as a country we're heavily invested and concerned about the quality of education because we know how important it is.

"We do the very best so we can to enable our children to get the best chance in life, the best start in life, and when we're impeded in being able to do that because of funding issues... it impacts across the country doesn't it?"

Head teachers across the region say they are having to balance the costs of extra classes with the cost of staffing, equipment and even maintenance.

Anna Turley, Labour MP for Redcar, said: "I was told that one of the head teachers in my area had to make one of the cleaning staff redundant to meet the budget that year, but was so upset about it and realised that this just wasn't practical and wasn't safe and hygienic.

"He is now paying that member of cleaning staff from his own salary."

Image caption Andrew Ramanandi started the petition calling for an increase in funding for schools in December

Mr Ramanandi added: "It's about cost and resource ultimately... I want my children to sing and to dance and to play the drum and to be able to paint.

"If I narrowed our curriculum down to maths and English, they're not going to be the sorts of active, passionate, successful citizens our country needs them to be."

In a statement, a Department for Education spokesperson said: "While there is more money going into our schools than ever before, we recognise the budgeting challenges schools face and that we are asking them to do more. The total core schools and high needs budget will rise from almost £41bn in 2017-18 to £43.5bn by 2019-20.

"Despite all of this, we do recognise that budgets remain tight. That is why we are supporting schools and head teachers to make the most of their budgets and reduce costs on things like energy, water bills and materials."

You can see more on this story on Sunday Politics on BBC One at 11:00 GMT on 3 March.

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