Islington Labour councillors are urging the Tory Government to reverse its damaging cuts to local schools, so that every local child can continue to receive an excellent education and achieve their ambitions.
Repeated cuts to Islington schools’ funding by central government has serious implications for children’s education. Between 2015 and 2020, the Government will have cut Islington’s schools budget by an estimated £6.4 million. As a result, schools will have on average £309 less to spend on each pupil.
The call was made at Full Council (20th September), where Islington Labour councillors supported a motion urging the Government to ensure that schools’ budgets are properly funded.
Schools in the borough now rank in the top 20% for boosting pupils’ attainment and 9 out of 10 schools are rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted. This is a significant improvement from 2008, when Islington ranked in the bottom 20 local areas in the country. This summer, Islington students achieved the best ever GCSE results, in the face of tougher exams and a new grading system.
Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children and Families, says:
“Islington’s schools have gone from strength to strength, thanks to the dedication of teachers, parents and unions. The Tory Government’s ideological cuts to schools’ budgets risk undermining the progress we have seen in Islington’s schools.
“Islington Labour is committed to making the borough a place where every child, regardless of their background, has the best start in life and receives an excellent education. We have repeatedly campaigned for the Tories to reverse their ideological cuts to schools and will continue to work with teachers, parents, unions and the local community to ensure Islington’s schools get a fair funding deal.”
The Tory Government has also failed to invest any new funding in Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) budgets, which puts further financial pressure on Islington’s schools. Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, and 38 other council leaders and union representatives recently wrote to the Secretary of State for Education to urge him to properly fund the SEND budget.
Swingeing Tory Government cuts to Islington’s schools budget have also put pressure on teacher retention and recruitment. Almost half (48%) of Islington schools have had to cut staff between 2014 and 2017, and Islington’s schools face losing an estimated 99 teachers between 2015 and 2019. The loss of teachers means that over half (58%) of Islington schools have seen an increase in their pupil/teacher ratio, which has implications for pupils’ learning and teachers’ workload.
Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary, National Education Union, says:
“The National Education Union fully supports Islington Labour councillors’ demand to end school cuts. The Government needs to start by replacing the real-terms £2.8 billion that has been cut from school budgets since 2015. Head teachers have already had to put severe measures in place to manage their declining budgets. Last year we saw an increase of 66,000 in the number of school aged pupils but a decline of 5,000 in the number of teachers to teach them. Teachers and support staff are being cut or not replaced if they leave, building repairs are being put on hold, subjects are being dropped from the curriculum – in particular music, dance, drama and art. Class sizes have been increased, meeting the needs of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities is getting harder as funding declines and it’s becoming increasingly common for schools to ask parents for financial help. These are decisions that no one going into headship ever thought they would have to make.
“Such chronic short-sightedness is wreaking havoc in our schools. This generation of children deserve much better than this bargain basement version of education which removes all support, creativity and joy out of their school experience. It is absolutely incumbent upon Government that schools receive the funding that our children need. Parents will not stand for a situation whereby their children’s education is diminished due to a severe shortfall in funding; they will see through the Government threadbare claim that schools are better funded than ever when they aren’t given the resources to cope with extra pupils or the extra costs the Government puts on them.”
In 2016, following relentless campaigning from Islington Labour, the Tory Government abandoned its plans to force all schools to become academies, and continue to call for councils to be able to deliver new schools for local children.
Islington schools funding figures are from SchoolCuts.org.uk