A HEAD teacher is appealing to parents to raise at least £15,000 to fill the gap left by a “disgraceful” level of funding.

Highcliffe School is the latest to reveal how it is grappling with budget cuts.

Head teacher Patrick Earnshaw said the school was receiving “well below” the minimum funding required by a secondary school. He said £400million announced by chancellor Philip Hammond last year as a “little extra” for schools had been worth “close to zero”.

In an end-of-term letter to parents, Mr Earnshaw said the parents’ donations were helping the school invest in facilities and equipment which it could not otherwise afford.

“You may be interested to know that the ‘chancellor’s little extras’ funding top-up added up to around £65,000 – unfortunately almost the same amount which was removed from our budget by the new BCP (Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole) local authority to help finance their huge deficit in ‘high needs funding’ for children and young people,” he wrote.

“Our net gain from the chancellor’s announcement of extra funding was in effect close to zero.

“We believe it is important to invest in at least some improvements to facilities and equipment in school so we have further cut our own budget to release some money for minor investments.

“So far, 32 families out of approximately 1,200 with children at the school have donated a total of £1,500 towards our goal of raising £15,000 this year.”

He added: “Given the disgraceful level of funding this school receives – which continues to be well below the government-determined minimum for a secondary school to function – any expression of financial support of the school by any parent is welcomed.”

In February, the Arnewood School in New Milton revealed plans to make six support and pastoral staff redundant and to let the fixed-term contracts of four unqualified teachers lapse. Support staff contracted to work 40 weeks a year were to be transferred to 39-week contracts.

Senior staff said the measures were being proposed “reluctantly” but that “the only solution left open to us is staff cuts.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “While there is more money going into our schools than ever before, we do recognise the budgeting challenges schools face. That’s why we have introduced a wide range of practical support to help schools and head teachers, and their local authorities, make the most of every pound of non-staff costs.

“Since 2017, we have given every local authority more money for every five to 16 year old in every school and made funding fairer across the country. Under the national funding formula, Highcliffe School attracts an 8.4 per cent increase per pupil in 2019-20, compared to 2017-18 – well above the national average of three per cent, and resulting in a gain of £372 for each and every pupil, compared to 2017-18.

“The secretary of state has made clear that as we approach the next spending review, he will back head teachers to have the resources they need to deliver a world class education.”

Neil Goddard, service director for quality and commissioning at BCP Council, said: “In order to meet increasing demands on the High Needs Budget, the council worked in partnership with the schools forum to develop a package of measures including a one-off £2.4m contribution from council funding.

“Following consultation with all schools, and with the agreement of the schools forum, this also included a £2.2m transfer from the schools block. All of this resource has been added to the High Needs budget which is passed to schools, settings and providers to meet the identified need of individual pupils.”