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 banner outside hazelwood school

You may have noticed a banner outside Hazelwood Schools proclaiming cuts of £12.5m across Enfield. But what do these cuts really mean for our children and why are parents still campaigning against them?

New information out this month showed that 80 per cent of teachers are now making personal financial contributions to support pupils, with 74 per cent saying that parent contributions are vital to keep schools going. (Worth Less Campaign)

The local parent-led, non-party political Enfield Fairer Funding Group says that hopefully the banner serves as a reminder to local people that our schools can’t take much more:

A photo of patients left on trollies in corridors or queues of ambulances outside A&E tells a thousand words. But how do you capture the devastating impact these cuts are having on our children? A simple photo can’t convey how a child feels when their teaching assistant is taken away, an experienced teacher leaves, or music and sports lessons are removed from the curriculum. Education is the foundation of all of our futures and these cuts are limiting the life chances of our children.

The new headteacher of Hazelwood Schools, Tracy Kilkenny, argues that schools are facing impossible choices:

Schools remain under tremendous pressure to make budget savings and are having to make unprecedented changes to save money. This is happening at a time when our pupils need, more than ever, an inspiring, broad and balanced curriculum.

Nationally, the amount of funding schools receive per pupil has fallen eight per cent since 2010. For Enfield this has meant 165 fewer teachers and 93 fewer teaching assistants compared to last year - with these number likely to rise again as schools are left with harder choices about how to make ends meet. With Brexit looming, you would think now would be the time to be investing in our future workforce.

To compound the effect of budget cuts, the government promised to fund the increase in teachers pay from September 2018. However, schools in Enfield are telling us that even this promise has not been kept, with the Government’s Teachers Pay Grant failing to cover the actual costs. Schools across the country are saying the same.

As the Worth Less survey showed, more and more parents are expected to make up the shortfall in school funding, or provide additional childcare when they can’t afford to keep schools open. Some Enfield Schools now close at 1.30pm on a Friday in a desperate effort to balance their books. Obviously not all schools are lucky enough to have parents with deep pockets, and this approach is likely to widen existing inequality gaps.

What’s the national evidence?

The government says record funding is being invested in education. However, an article in the Independent newspaper this week highlights analysis by the House of Commons Library, that found that real-terms spending on schools and colleges had slumped from £95.5bn in 2011/12 to £87.8bn last year - a reduction of £7.7bn. Education spending as a share of GDP fell from 5.69 per cent to 4.27 per cent over the 7-year period.

Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies likewise confirms significant falling real terms funding for schools after accounting for inflation and growth in school pupil population. An ITN News report in the last week said that thousands of head teachers up and down the country calling for meaningful government intervention to address a growing crisis for schools. The report highlights the additional pressures on schools as they try to cover responsibilities previously provided by cash strapped local government, the NHS and police forces.

What can we do to change this?

Parent groups say they will continue to try and bring to life the hidden impact these cuts are having on our children. Local and national campaigns have demonstrated that when the community comes together, both local and national politicians are forced to listen. If you feel strongly about this, please mention this as an issue to your local MP or councillor.

Nic Buckley, Chair of Governors at Hazelwood Schools makes this final plea:

We’re in the midst of a crisis in education funding, which is forcing schools into more and more perilous positions overloading teachers and putting the education of children at risk, It is simply not sustainable, and we must keep this issue in the public eye. I’d urge everyone who reads this to please engage with and support local campaigns on school funding.

For more information, please contact the Enfield Fair Funding Facebook page

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Karl Brown's Avatar
Karl Brown posted a reply #4349 17 Jan 2019 08:09
These funding reductions, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of national wealth are shocking. Two high profile themes we read a lot about: the need to reverse the UK’s relatively poor productivity performance; and the intent to “skill-up” the UK population to cope with the after effects of Brexit sit totally at odds with this lack of investment. Say one thing, do another it appears. Wealth extraction rather than focus on peoples needs , once again, it appears

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