MPs, Head Teachers and Parents Quiz Minister on School Funding

Ruth Cadbury leads group raising concerns about impact of Government policy

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Ruth Cadbury MP for Brentford and Isleworth met with a Government Minister this week along with local councillors, head teachers and parents to raise the issue of the funding of schools in Hounslow Borough. The meeting took place in a House of Commons committee room.

Along with her colleague Seema Malhotra, the MP for Feltham and Heston, she quizzed Education Minister Nick Gibbs on what she described as the shortfalls in funding facing schools in their constituencies, with head teachers and parents strongly criticising cuts to their schools services. They also took the opportunity to explain to the Minister how their schools are being impacted and the measures they are being forced to take.

Ms Cadbury said, “These totally unacceptable real-term cuts are clearly damaging schools and harming our children’s opportunities. My constituents are reporting increased class sizes, cuts to the curriculum and staff not being replaced. It’s unfair to expect our schools and teachers to maintain our very high standards of education with an ever-decreasing budget. The discredited austerity philosophy of this government is failing to provide adequate funding for our children’s education."

The lead member for Education at Hounslow, Cllr Tom Bruce, pointed out that schools in Brentford and Isleworth have a successfully high standard of education, the current funding levels however threatened the ability of local schools to maintain this. 1 in 3 local Primary schools are ranked in the top 250 nationally, with nearly all schools ranked either ‘good’ or ‘out-standing’.

During the meeting, local head teacher, Farley Marsh, of St.Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Isleworth, explained to the Minister that, “Changes to Government funding are forcing the school governors to consult on changes to the school week and are forcing him to narrow the curriculum and drastically cut back our services.”

Concerned parent, Stephanie Doherty, shared her and other parents concerns that due to changes to school funding her son’s school no longer has any full-time Teaching Assistants resulting in him experiencing less support in the class room and parents being asked regularly to contribute to school funds.

The group made a series of requests to the Minister including increased flexibility of the schools funding formula so that it accounts for cost-pressures such as inflation, N.I. contributions, pensions and the apprenticeship levy to prevent real-term cuts. The also wanted greater flexibility for the local authority to address shortfalls and increased warning of changes likely to affect budgets such as further cuts or teacher pay increase. There was also a request for greater influence on the creation and location of free schools.

The Minister of State for School Standards and Minister for Equalities, defended the plans saying “there are no cuts to funding”, but accepted that schools are experiencing a real term loss of services.

He ended the meeting by promising to visit St Mary’s in Isleworth to see for himself the effect of the cost pressures on local schools.

October 20, 2017

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