In My View… by Glen Mynott, Joint Campaign Coordinator, SE Cornwall Labour
Tomorrow (Saturday) South East Cornwall Labour Party is organising a march and rally in Liskeard to highlight the funding crisis in our schools. It is the culmination of a three-month campaign during which we have collected more than 2000 signatures calling on the government to return school budgets to their real terms value of 2010.
In October the government’s claim that it is putting more money into schools than ever before was refuted by its own statistics authority, the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA). UKSA complained that it had written to the Department for Education (DfE) on four separate occasions in the past year about its presentation and use of education statistics. In an unusually strongly worded letter, the UKSA chair, Sir David Norgrove, said he had “serious concerns” about the DfE’s use of statistics and that the figure for expenditure on schools given by the DfE “included a wide range of education expenditure unrelated to publicly funded schools”.
The reality is that £2.8bn has been cut from the schools budget since 2015. The school cuts website shows that on average, primary schools are losing £52.5k per year and secondaries £178k. In South East Cornwall, Torpoint Community School is set to lose £213k between 2015 and 2020, Saltash.net Community School, £188k, Looe Community Academy £92k and Liskeard School and Community College £85k. Among the worst affected primary schools are St Cleer which is set to lose £78k, Brunel, 55k and Lostwithiel 54k. A recent Institute of Fiscal Studies report indicated that per pupil spending by the government has fallen by 8% since 2010.
What do these cuts mean for our children? They mean the loss of teaching and support staff. Schools in Cornwall are making staff redundant or not replacing staff when they leave. For example, there has been a significant reduction in teaching assistants in schools over the last few years as headteachers try to balance ever dwindling budgets, resulting in less support for our most vulnerable pupils. The government is failing our most vulnerable children and its own figures show that more than 2000 pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) are not getting access to the equipment and resources they need to learn because of funding cuts. As schools admit more pupils to access additional funding, teaching posts are lost, resulting in larger class sizes and fewer subjects on the curriculum. Increased workload for teachers resulting from larger classes means that there is less time for extra-curricula activities and leads to teachers leaving the profession. As things stand, teachers and support staff in Cornish schools are working harder than ever to deliver high quality lessons to larger classes with fewer resources.
If you want to know more about the effects of the cuts and how they affect your child’s or grandchild’s school look at the school cuts website at https://schoolcuts.org.uk
A Labour government will restore the funding of schools to 2010 levels in real terms and introduce a genuinely fair National Funding Formula in which no school loses out.
Come and join us in Liskeard tomorrow (Saturday) – we meet at The Guide Hut at 10.30am – sign our petition and march with us in support of properly funded schools in Cornwall that cater for the many, not the few.
First Published in the Cornish Times, 02/11/18