SECONDARY school teachers in north Essex have united to urge parents to back them in a campaign to protect funding for education.

Letters have been sent to parents describing how all Essex schools face Government cash cuts from April next year.

They warn the funding review, which is being proposed under the National Funding Formula, will lead to less money for north Essex schools as money is diverted to deprived areas.

This, they are warning, could lead to reduced staffing levels, increased class sizes and reductions in curricular and pastoral provision.

Colne Community School and College, in Brightlingsea, and Tendring Technology College are among the schools which have sent letters to parents under the heading “Fund the 8 per cent”.

They state: “Headteachers in all Essex schools (including our primary colleagues with whom we are working closely) are dismayed that our financial situation looks so bleak.

“Consequently, our fears about reduced staffing levels, increased class sizes and reductions in curricular and pastoral provision are likely to become a reality in either the short term, medium term or both.

“School leaders are united in their belief that the current situation is both unfair and unsustainable.

“We are asking Government, in the strongest possible terms, to ‘fund the 8 per cent cuts to school budgets’.”

Their letters home also urge parents to challenge MPs and to ask them to justify the proposals.

They add: “We will continue to do everything in our power to maintain standards of care and provision but also feel that it is important to let you know just how bad matters are at present.

“Your support as we continue with our campaign will be vital.”

The proposals are aimed at ensuring schools are funded using the same method.

But head teachers fear the new system would not take into account extra costs on schools such as increasing employers’ National Insurance and pension contributions as well as other grant costs.

In addition, they claim schools are not receiving adequate core funding to meet basic staffing and equipment costs.

The Association of Secondary Headteachers in Essex has also said headteachers have also written to all Essex MPs to outline their concerns.

The group said: “This is an unprecedented show of unity by Essex secondary headteachers leading schools from across the spectrum, including community, faith, foundation, grammar and academy, stating they are not going to put up with the unnecessary confusion and disruption being caused.

“Headteachers in Essex are having to take draconian action in the face of this dire financial situation.

“If you talk to headteachers, you will hear a deafening chorus of what they are most worried about – a shortage of funding and teachers.”

Nationally some grammar schools have warned the changes to the funding structure could lead to them asking parents for cash contributions although Colchester’s selective schools have not decided what action to take.

Colchester MP Will Quince has defended the funding rule changes stating overall Colchester schools benefit from this national change.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The government has protected the core schools budget in real terms since 2010, with school funding at its highest level on record at more than £40bn in 2016-17. But the system for distributing that funding across the country is unfair, opaque and outdated. We are going to end the historical postcode lottery in school funding and under the proposed national schools funding formula, more than half of England’s schools will receive a cash boost.

“Under our proposals both Colne Community School and Tendring Technology College would receive a cash boost - £72,000 and £174,000 respectively – while, overall, schools across Essex would see an uplift of funding of 2.6%, which amounts to £20.2 million. In addition, significant protections have also been built into the formula so that no school will face a reduction of more than more than 1.5 per cent per pupil per year or 3 per cent per pupil overall. We recognise that schools are facing cost pressures, which is why we will continue to provide support to help them use their funding in cost effective ways, including improving the way they buy goods and services, so‎ they get the best possible value.

“We are consulting on the factors that will make up the formula and we know that it is important that we get this right so that every pound of the investment we make in education has the greatest impact. The consultation will run until March 22 2017, and we are keen to hear from as many schools, governors, local authorities and parents as possible.”