Over 70 headteachers and governors have called on the Government to stop what Hackney Council describes as a £25m cut from the borough’s school funding.
In a letter to the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville and Deputy Mayor Anntoinette Bramble ask for formal “reassurance that school budgets in Hackney will be protected” after the Government announced a billion-pound funding shake up on Monday.
Greening announced that schools across England will be promised an extra £1.3bn over the next two years and said this “significant investment” would help to “raise standards, promote social mobility and to give every child the best possible education”.
The extra funding will not be new money from the Treasury, but money saved from within the current education budget such as spending on free schools.
While the Government has said every school in England will benefit, critics argue that Greening has not been clear about where cuts will be made and schools will suffer.
“We’ll lose teachers, while standards risk dropping,” Mayor Sadiq Khan said. “It risks shorter school days and extracurricular activities becoming a thing of the past.
“This is a kick in the teeth for everyone who has worked to make London an international beacon for education.”
Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, Angela Rayner, said: “This is all being funded without a penny of new money from the Treasury.
“They are not committing any new money and have not been clear about exactly what programmes they will be cutting to plug the funding back hole.”
Hackney Council also addressed the Government’s proposal to rejig the national funding formula which it said “will have made Hackney schools £25m worse off by 2019” and lead to “692 fewer teachers across the borough.”
The letter to Justine Greening, signed by 43 Headteachers and 36 Chairs of Governors, representing about 50 secondary and primary schools, said:
“Whilst we absolutely appreciate the need to see proper resourcing of schools across the country, the changes that were proposed before the election have caused huge concerns to schools and to parents, carers and learners across Hackney. The impact on our schools, our children, and their achievements, would be truly devastating.
“We are writing to you to ask for you to formally reiterate that commitment to Hackney schools and parents, and to provide reassurance that school budgets in our borough will be protected. We are asking for your absolute assurance that those pledges made in your manifesto will be honoured, and that no school will be worse off, either in cash or real terms.
The council said that Greening’s funding proposals “jeopardised” the progress Hackney schools have made over the past 15 years and that the borough “remains one of the most deprived areas of the UK, yet in education terms, [its] children are outperforming the national average by every measure”.
The Government announced the extra cash after pressure from campaigns over funding shortages. Last weekend, hundreds of teachers, children, and parents protested outside the Department of Education in Whitehall over school funding cuts across London.
In May, students from around 60 Tower Hamlets schools, along with Mayor John Biggs and local MPs, hung five giant postcards around the borough in objection to lack of funds.
— East London Teachers (@EastLondonNUT) June 14, 2017
The postcards, signed by nearly 5,000 campaigners, called on Prime Minister Theresa May to rethink the new funding formula which councils say would leave their schools worse off.
Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs said: “Our schools are under threat from the senseless cuts. Thousands of people have spoken out to tell the government the cuts to budgets will be a disaster.”
Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, described the funding cuts as “a cap on aspiration”.
Greening said the extra funding announced on Monday would help schools “transition to the national funding formula” and that clarification on funding will be set out in a future spending review.