Teachers, Councillors and Pupils Join Protests

Over the axing of Building Schools for the Future programme

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A lobby of Parliament will take place today Monday 19 July to protest against the proposed cuts to the Building Schools for the Future programme.

Teachers, councillors and pupils will descend on Westiminster the same day as the second reading of the Academies Bill.

A recent analysis conducted for the National Union of Teachers (NUT) by independent consultant Martin Rogers (attd) has shown that the Government has failed to calculate properly the funding impact of its Academies Bill.

As a result of the Government's Academies 'Ready Reckoner' Local Authorities (LA) will have to give large, excessive and unfair amounts of funding from other services as well as from education to Academies. This could mean that many LA will have to make major cuts on top of the 25% cuts demanded by Government. Not only could LA be seriously damaged but also budgets to schools that either choose or have to remain in LA could be slashed. The paper analysing this potential consequence is attached.

Christine Blower General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers' union, said, "Time and again we have told the Government not to rush the Academies Bill. Consistency and fairness in school funding is absolutely vital. It is quite evident that Michael Gove, in his haste to railroad his Bill through has failed to consider its consequences for school funding. It would be entirely unacceptable for the Bill to discriminate against schools which remain in Local Authorities and to potentially wreck the other services they provide. I urge Government to provide proper time for parliamentary scrutiny of this Bill. The NUT believes it will, if not significantly amended, damage the whole education service.

"It is extremely difficult to see what justification there can be for fast-tracking the Academies Bill through the Commons and by-passing the usual democratic processes. These are not matters of national security or economic melt-down. The coalition government can have very little faith in its own legislation if they have to resort to such demonstrably unreasonable tactics to pass a Bill that will change the face of education in this country.

"Cutting the budget to rebuild schools is a huge blow to those that have been promised the sort of facilities you would expect in a modern school. Poor learning environments have a negative impact on the education of children, young people and the morale of the community. School buildings were woefully run down prior to Labour coming to power in '97 and while much has been done to improve them there is still a lot more to do. We are in real danger of returning to the crumbling inadequate schools that were a signature of the last Tory Government."

Announcing a complete overhaul of investment in England's schools, Education Secretary Michael Grove brought an end to the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme last week.

He said, "In the light of the public finances, it would have been irresponsible to carry on regardless with an inflexible, and needlessly complex programme."

The news came as a great blow to Chiswick Community School whose BSF funding has been withdrawn meaning that the planned refurbishment and redevelopment of the only state secondary school in Chiswick must be put on hold with the foreseeable future.

Mary Macleod MP blamed the previous admnistration for the cuts saying, “I am disappointed that we are not in a position to be able to go ahead at this point with the planned refurbishments and improvements to Chiswick Community School as currently scoped in the BSF Programme. Labour left us with the largest deficit in our peacetime history which has meant that my colleague the Rt. Hon. Michael Gove MP, the Secretary of State for Education, has had to make some difficult and immediate decisions about how to get best value for money. The Secretary of State’s capital review team will now be indentifying ways to drive down costs, get buildings more quickly with a higher proportion of money going direct to the frontline.”

She continued, "I understand how important education is and I assure you that I will work with all schools in the constituency to understand their needs and priorities and ensure these are represented to the Secretary of State for Education as they conduct their review of future capital investment in schools.”

Other local schools affected by the cuts are:

  • Acton High Secondary School
  • Twyford CE Secondary School
  • London Oratory
  • Sacred Heart High School
  • Cardinal Vaughan Memorial RC School

July 19, 2010