SCHOOLS across Carlisle and the surrounding area have taken an unprecedented step to highlight the funding crisis they are facing.

As many as 10,000 pupils across the district have taken home a letter to their parents explaining the extent of the cuts.

It comes as data published by the House of Commons this week reveals schools in Carlisle have been cut by £1.3m since 2013/ 2014 which works out as a reduction of £395 per pupil over the six years.

Parents are being urged to sign a petition and joined 60,000 others calling for the central government grant for all state schools to be increased.

Leaders say the grant has not kept pace with the rise in costs since 2010 and schools are working tirelessly to "make ends meet", though the situation is becoming unsustainable and "unacceptable".

Of the 41 schools across the district, 33 have come together to highlight the issue and fight for an increase in funding.

Clem Coady, headteacher at Stoneraise School, is a long-standing campaigner.

He said: "It's just falling on deaf ears and we are at a crux point now. If we don't reverse the cuts this generation of children will never get this education back and that's why we're fighting so strongly for it."

He said it is correct that there are record levels of funding but in England and Wales there are 643,000 more pupils in the school system as a whole.

Mr Coady explained that in the last 12 months, nationally, there have been an additional 66,000 pupils in the system, yet a reduction of 5,400 teachers, 2,800 fewer teaching assistants and 2,600 fewer support staff.

"It is all very well the politicians saying the funding is a record high, without acknowledging the additional pupils we have in the system.

"We need our government to stop ignoring this issue and stop misleading the public. This generation of children deserves to have their education funded adequately.

"The school’s workforce is being reduced leading to less support for our most vulnerable children..”

Graham Frost, headteacher at Robert Ferguson Primary School, said: “In reality, schools are facing increasing costs, reductions in support services, and at a time when changes to benefits are putting pressures on many of the most disadvantaged or vulnerable families."

Despite relentless campaigning by Carlisle headteachers, who have written directly to the Chancellor, held MP briefings, education summit meetings and three meetings at Westminster, school funding has still been reduced and Mr Frost said the Government was not listening.

He added: "Government ministers might want school services to shrink so they can make savings, but spending on education should never be seen as a burden on the treasury - it is an essential investment in our children’s futures.”

The cuts have forced school leaders to make difficult decisions where ultimately they have had to cut back on staff and support for the most vulnerable. It's also meant cuts to resources and equipment budgets and has meant there are fewer subject choices at secondary schools and less varied activities in primary schools.

Cumwhinton School headteacher Kath Mitchell said: "We are all making difficult decisions and don’t want any children to lose out."

Chris Wilkins, who heads St. Margaret Mary’s Catholic School, said he and fellow headteachers would continue to provide the best education they could with the limited funds but that the situation was "unacceptable".

He said: "We have done our very best to make efficiency savings, but schools across our city are having to reduce staff, this can only have a negative impact on our pupils."

Sue Blair, headteacher at Pennine Way Primary School, added: "It is not right that this generation of primary school children has only experienced cuts. We need an increase in funding for all Carlisle Schools as well as a coordinated national plan to fund all children with Special Educational Needs – funding received by schools for this group of children does not match their needs or entitlement."

Funding for schools in both Copeland and Penrith and the Border has been cut by £2.4m and by £2.6m in Workington since 2013/2014.

Parents are also asked to join the Facebook group Carlisle Against School Cuts to keep the pressure on local politicians to do all they can to reverse the cuts to schools.

In a response to the petition the Department for Education said: "We recognise schools are facing budgeting challenges and we are asking them to do more. We have increased funding by an extra £1.3bn across this year and next, over and above previous spending plans."

To sign the petition visit