face funding crisis
demands more funding from education minister to cover £3.5 million
Bob Garnett, Corporate Director of Hounslow�s Lifelong Learning, Leisure
and Cultural Services has written to Charles Clarke, MP Secretary of State
for Education and Skills, demanding greater financial investment of the
Borough�s primary ad secondary schools.
He estimates that Hounslow is a massive £3.5 million short of being
able to set balanced budgets. Many primary schools the shortfall is in
the range of £20,000 to £40,000, although some face significantly
larger deficits. For the Borough�s 14 secondary schools the current total
shortfall is approximately £2,500,000.
He outlined for Mr Clarke the considerable implications of under-funding
stating, amongst others:
� the Council has insufficient balances to underwrite cumulative deficit
budgets of this amount.
� Schools are managing the situation by not replacing staff that leave.
Staff losses are considerable. The effect of this is that the curriculum
cannot be delivered satisfactorily and standards of teaching and learning
are likely to fall. Many primary schools are having to adopt large classes
and undesirable groupings.
� Specialist programmes such as those under Excellence in Cities are being
abandoned as the funds are applied to mainstream salary costs.
� Staff cannot be released to undertake training on improvement programmes,
since schools cannot afford to employ supply staff. The funds allocated
for this purpose have been assigned to mainstream salary costs.
� Specialist and beacon schools (e.g. St Mary�s R.C. Primary) are unable
to deliver their outreach programmes since funds will have to be diverted
to mainstream salary costs.
This dismal scenario is exacerbated by the fact that members of staff
are able to gain significantly through moving to inner London schools,
due to the difference between inner and outer London allowance (Hounslow
is outer London, where as Ealing is inner). Headteachers are very concerned
that next year will see a further deterioration in a situation that is
already very bad.
Headteacher at Chiswick Community School reportedly said part of the problem
lay behind the change in National Insurance and Pension contributions
that have taken place this year, which means a 14 per cent increase in
his school's wage bill. He said that money that would have gone to make
urgent repairs to the school is now needed for salaries and described
the lack of response to the school's problems as "appalling."