The Lewisham cabinet member for school performance and children’s services slammed Government funding in a letter to the education secretary.  

Councillor Chris Barnham urged Gavin Williamson to “please take seriously the funding crisis facing our schools”. 

It comes as an increase of 1.84 per cent in school funding was included in the council’s budget but councillors heard “this presents a real term decrease in funding once salary and other inflationary increases are taken into account”.    

In a letter seen by the Local Democracy Service, Cllr Barnham said the education secretary announced the settlement for schools was “the biggest funding boost for schools in a decade, which will give every school more money for every child”. 

Cllr Barnham wrote: “I know that you will not have made such a claim lightly, but I am afraid the reality looks and feels very different from the perspective of our local schools, which will receive an uplift of 1.84 per cent next year in the pupil-led element of funding.  

“Far from being an increase, this is in fact not enough to cover the cost of pay increases, let alone other costs.” 

He estimated a real terms reduction of around three per cent per pupil and that schools are under increasing pressure to “meet the unfunded cost of the support staff pay award and also wider inflationary costs such as utility bills”.  

Cllr Barnham also asked why Lewisham’s funding settlement was lower than neighborouring London boroughs. 

“Lewisham schools, in common with other parts of London, serve many children who may face severe challenges.  

“The population is growing, it is extremely diverse, and around one third of our children are growing up in poverty.  

“A good education is the most important thing we can offer our young people,” he said.  

Cllr Barnham expressed support for schools and teachers and said the council has more to do.  

But he added: “The task is not made easier by the impact on children and families, and our wider community, of a decade of damaging austerity.  

“All of this makes it harder to manage the impact of the government’s continued failure to fund our schools properly.   

“I am sure you and your colleagues will be seeking to secure additional funding for schools in future years.”  

He added that ‘levelling up’ “should not involve cutting funds to schools serving some of the most disadvantaged children”.  

 A Department for Education spokesperson said: “This Government has announced the biggest funding boost for schools in a decade which will give every school more money for every child.

“Schools in Lewisham will attract £5,872 per pupil next year, well above the national figure  of £4,845 per pupil.

“It’s because we’ve recognised the pressures schools have faced that we are increasing funding, allowing schools to invest more in teachers and resources to ensure that all children get the top quality education they deserve.”