A HEADTEACHER has warned that state schools in Gloucestershire are facing a crisis unless government funding is increased – after he had to ask parents for donations.

Gloucestershire is one of the most poorly funded local authorities in the UK – ranking 131 out of 150 – and several schools here are struggling to make ends meet.

The situation is so bad that the headteacher at Farmor’s School in Fairford, Matthew Evans, recently sent a letter to parents asking for money.

He is encouraging people to write to their MP to call for fairer funding for Gloucestershire schools.

“I fear that the cost pressures we are facing are unsustainable and that the quality of education we strive to provide at Farmor’s is increasingly difficult to protect,” said Mr Evans.

“Our mission is that children in Gloucestershire get the same resources that children in other places get.”

ASCL (association of school and college leaders) research shows that the 10 best funded areas will receive £6,297 per pupil in 2015-16 compared to £4,208 in the worst funded local authorities.

After receiving the letter from Farmor’s, some parents said they feared for their children's education.

One parent, who asked not to be named, said: “We fully understand that the head needs to ask if it’s a last resort, but we are worried about our child’s education over the next few years. Funding is so tight, they’re having to beg parents to pay for basic functions.”

Mr Evans said the letter might have come as a surprise to many parents because they had not noticed any change in the school.

“We have kept the same breadth of curriculum,” he said. “We don’t want to have to make further reductions. We have done that while protecting and also improving the quality of education.

“Most of our costs go on staffing so we have had to cut back on staff. We have had redundancies over a number of years, so it’s a case of looking at cost and making the organisation as lean as we possibly can.”

But he is worried that if the funding system does not improve, Farmor’s could be forced to make cutbacks which harm pupils' learning.

“Something needs to happen before budget 2016,” said Mr Evans. “We need more money coming in next year.”

Cabinet member for children and young people at Gloucestershire County Council (GCC), Cllr Paul Mclain, said it had been campaigning for fairer funding.

GCC supports the F40 campaign group that represents some of the lowest funded education authorities in England.

“Under 13 years of Labour government there were no moves taken to sort the problem out,” said Cllr Paul Mclain.

“This year the government made an extra £9.6m available to Gloucestershire schools to help address low funding, and the Conservatives made a manifesto commitment to address the issue fully in this parliament – which is great news.”

MP for the Cotswolds Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said he had written to Farmor’s this week.

“The current situation is completely unfair,” he said. “It is something I have been campaigning on as part of the F40 group.

“There was a commitment in the Conservative party election manifesto to ensure that the lowest funded education authorities, including Gloucestershire, would continue to receive additional funding to help close the gap between rural and urban schools. I was delighted the Prime Minister confirmed this pledge during Prime Ministers Questions on July 1, stating that the £390 million of extra funding for England’s lowest funded local authorities in 2015-16 will be incorporated into the baseline funding for future years.

“I can assure Farmor’s School, and all schools in my constituency, that I will carry on campaigning to address the unfair funding situation that currently exists in Gloucestershire.”

A spokesman for the Department of Education said they were ensuring schools across England were fairly funded, but recognised work still needed to be done.

“This is a priority for the government,” he said. “Over the coming months we will be looking at what more needs to be done to ensure that all local areas are funded justly, and are protected from excessive year-on-year changes to their funding.

“These are complex reforms that we have to get right. We will consult extensively with the sector, the public and MPs, and bring forward our proposals in due course.”