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Teachers shortage ‘crisis’ as schools’ budgets are slashed

‘Vulnerable students’ at risk from funding squeeze as staff are priced out of the capital, warn headteachers

07 April, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya

Quintin Kynaston headteacher Alex Atherton

A HEADTEACHERS’ collective is campaigning against the schools’ funding “crisis”.

The Westminster Secondary Schools Improvement Collaborative is protesting against shrinking budgets it says have caused “critical teacher shortages” and are making support staff “unaffordable”.

A letter from nine secondary school chiefs said talented teachers had already been “forced to leave” London because of the housing market and that “class sizes were increasing”.

In a letter to Karen Buck MP, on behalf of the schools, St Augustine’s Church of England school headteacher Eugene Moriarty, said: “If our funding levels remain the same or are cut this is bound to have an impact on educational outcomes and also on the wellbeing of our young people, some of whom are already incredibly vulnerable.”

The budget squeeze would make it hard to maintain the levels of support for children with special educational needs and hit the “most vulnerable students”.

The letter was signed by headteachers Richard Ardron from Marylebone Boys’ School, Sîan Maddrell from Grey Coat Hospital, Kat Pugh from St Marylebone CE School and Alex Atherton from Quintin Kynaston, as well as principals Dr Saima Rana from Westminster Academy, Peter Jones and Katie Gillam from Paddington Academy and principal designate Karen Barker from the Sir Simon Milton Westminster Academy.

MP Karen Buck: ‘I am pleased our heads are standing up for our kids and I am doing all I can to support them in parliament’

The letter said the schools are “facing a financial crisis regardless of the National Funding Formula”, a new schools’ funding policy that will take away large sums from the capital’s secondary schools and redistribute it around the county.

It added that “Westminster has the seventh highest child poverty level in the whole country” and also “high numbers of vulnerable young people who have a range of barriers to learning”, adding: “Give us the tools we need to maintain the high levels of education the students currently attending our establishments receive.”

QK’s Mr Atherton said that aside from the fairer funding formula “the bigger issue is how much money there is overall and the continual year-on-year savings that schools are having to make”.

Ms Buck said: “The massive improvements in London schools over the last 15 years owe much to the huge investment in teachers, support staff and facilities, as well as schemes like London Challenge and Teach First. Now are heads are warning these improvements could be under threat as cuts start to hit education. At least some of this is due to plans to shift resources out of London. I am pleased our heads are standing up for our kids and I am doing all I can to support them in parliament.”

The Department for Education’s position is that the current system for distributing school funding is “unfair, opaque and outdated” and the changes would mean more funding for half of England’s school’s by 2018-19. It added: “We recognise that schools are facing pressures, which is why we will continue to provide advice and support to help them use their funding in cost-effective ways, in­cluding improving the way they buy goods and services so they get the best possible value for their pupils.”

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