The public are being asked for their views on shaping education in Hackney in the face of “major challenges” such as funding cuts and pressure for grammar schools.
Hackney Council say forecast changes to funding, coupled with rapid population growth, will pose great challenges to the borough’s education provision over the next few years.
Schools are forecast to be up to £20m worse off over the course of the next three years, which would inevitably put pressure on staff and compromise the schools’ capability to deliver a full curriculum. According to research by teachers unions Hackney’s schools are set to be the worst hit of the Eastlondonlines area boroughs, losing an average of nearly 16 per cent of their funding from now until 2020. Unions estimate this would represent a loss of around £1,077 per pupil.
As previously reported, Hackney’s businesses are the hardest hit by the new business rates revaluation. With the cuts to budget allocated for education, too, Hackney Council says it will be hard pressed to balance the books.
In response to these funding cuts, the authority has started the Hackney: Schools For Everyone initiative, a consultation to ask their residents what they think of the current situation in the borough, and the hopes they have for its future. A questionnaire will be sent to every home in the borough.
Residents will have until February 28 to respond. The council is asking how the residents feel about forced academisation, the role the council has on the borough’s schools, and the possibility of re-introducing grammar schools and selective admission based on certain academic results.
Deputy Mayor of Hackney, Councillor Anntoinette Bramble, underlined the government’s plan to bring back grammar schools as one of her main concerns. “We don’t want to see selection in Hackney schools,” she said. “We want to maintain a close relationship with our community of schools and to continue to play a vital role in school improvement. We are opposed to these measures, which we think will undermine years of hard work by the Council, our schools, and pupils.”
A brief overview of the consultation on the website states: “We want to hear from local people about Hackney’s education offer, especially the type of schools you’d like to see, and your views about what the Council’s role should be in bringing this about.”
We asked members of the public in Hackney about their thoughts on the possibility of the re-introduction of grammar schools and forced academisation.
Mia Collins, 31, a fashion PR consultant said: “I don’t see that grammar schools are necessary. I think that the schools there now, with OFSTED, everything seems to be quite well and good. But I personally prefer more creative schools and more alternative ways of education, such as Montessori or Steiner schools. Although I think there’s already too much control and strict rules surrounding education right now.”
Dean Purcell, 34, personal trainer, Shoreditch: “I left school about seventy years ago, so I don’t know what the whole idea about academy schools are. Personally, I think that is more effective than how we used to do it. Kids excel in what they’re good at, and they can pick what they’re good at, what makes them happy and what they enjoy doing. So I think it is better to have a system that reflects that.”
For more information on the consultation, visit the website.