CamdenNewJournal

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More than 40 Camden headteachers sign letter demanding end to ‘drastic’ school cuts

'We can't go on like this' warning ahead of budget announcement on Wednesday 

20 November, 2017 — By Tom Foot

Camden teachers on a recent education demonstration

HEADTEACHERS have united against “extraordinary” and “drastic” cuts to school funding in a joint letter to the Chancellor and Education Secretary.

Forty-one Camden heads have signed a letter warning that “school​ ​budgets​ ​are​ ​becoming​ ​untenable” and calling for an urgent meeting with Phillip Hammond and Justine Greening.

The letters warns of low teacher morale and the trust between teaching staff and parents is being “eroded”.

The letter said: “The Government’s real terms cuts to funding are taking extraordinary sums from the state education​ ​system​ ​across​ ​England.

“We cannot see how we will be able to continue to provide our current level of provision in the future with such drastic cuts to our funding. Nor can we see how we are going to maintain morale amongst our dedicated staff if funding is going to be relentlessly cut for the foreseeable future. Recruitment and retention of teachers in London is already an immense challenge​ ​for​ ​schools.

“As school leaders, we are passionate about improving the life chances of the children in our care. The support and trust of the communities we serve is essential to the success of our schools. Through enforced cuts and the resulting reduction of pastoral services, this trust will undoubtedly​ ​be​ ​eroded.”

Schools are juggling a number of budget problems including increased pension contributions, higher costs of buying in support services, loss of grants and funding being diverted to free schools. At the same time, teachers are taking jobs in areas outside of inner London where they can afford to rent. The letter also talks about schools having to resort to “sponsorship from external sources to provide the basic entitlement for children”.

Cllr Oliver Lewis, who is chairman of the council’s schools scrutiny committee, said: “We want well funded schools with good facilities. Lots of parents are worried teaching assistants are leaving school. Teaching assistants make a big difference. They make the classroom a better place. Courses are being cut. Extra curricular activities are going.”

Union chiefs are challenging Mr Hammond to reverse schools cuts in his budget due to be made public on Wednesday. They also want to hear promises about the next five years of funding so that school can “plan for future”,

Gerald Clark, from Camden NUT, said: “They haven’t committed any new money, they have moved money from other part of education budget. The money they have moved isn’t going to make a massive impact. The Government is saying we are scaremongering but it is not. This is having a very high impact on teacher workload and on pupils.”

Despite criticism, the Government says there are “no cuts” as funding is increasing.

In a statement, Nick Gibb, minister for school standards, said: “There are no cuts in funding. The introduction of the national funding formula from 2018-19, backed by £1.3 billion of additional investment, has been widely welcomed and will put an end to historic disparities in the system.”

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