Shirebrook Academy principal says schools are 'surviving on the breadline'

Mark Cottingham, Shirebrook Academy principal.
Mark Cottingham, Shirebrook Academy principal.

An academy principal in Shirebrook has described the impact of cuts to education as "like surviving on the breadline".

Mark Cottingham, principal of Shirebrook Academy, has hit out at cuts to his school budget and called for politicians to stop using education as a "political football".

It comes as the academy saw an eight per cent fall in its overall budget since 2015, leading to the loss of teaching staff and an increase in class sizes "by 20 per cent".

Mr Cottingham said policymakers in Westminster "need to look at the bigger picture" and suggests that cuts to social care and young family services mean schools are starting to "become front line services".

He said: "Schools are being starved of funding and this is a big picture issue - it is all services being cut, and it has a knock-on effect

"Social services and all support mechanisms for young families are being cut, and schools are now being expected to become front line services but with less overall support.

"One of the biggest problems is what the government is expects from us.

"Our main priority should be providing the best results for students, but in reality we're expected to offer services that should be readily available.

"The government need to stop forcing ridiculous expenses on us such as high exam costs, and let us teach a curriculum fit for the 21st Century rather than the 19th.

"Austerity got us to this position, and it seems that the Conservative leadership contest has brought more empty funding promises.

"They need to stop using education funding as a political football and actually start delivering for schools and our future generations."

It comes as Mansfield's Conservative MP Ben Bradley, who sits on the education select committee, called for more support for schools from the next Prime Minister during an 'estimates day' debate.

He said: "The most prominent education issue is school funding. To put it bluntly, there is not enough of it.

"I have come to realise that schools are the only place some kids have that are warm, safe and welcoming and where they can find people they trust.

"Schools in Mansfield and Warsop have been historically underfunded and local students often face significant social challenges. If we are asking schools to properly support those children, they will need significantly more money.

"I think that if there is any sector in which government money should be spent, it is education and children’s services, which should be a key priority."