Dismore questions Mayor over cuts to school budgets
At today’s Mayor’s Question Time, London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden Andrew Dismore AM asked London Mayor Sadiq Khan what action he could take, to prevent London’s school children losing out on a good standard of education as a result of the Government’s underfunding of London schools. (see video here)
The DfE has admitted that the main group of schools likely to see reductions were “Those in Inner London and some other urban areas that have particularly benefitted from historic funding decisions”. Research by the National Union of Teachers and Child Poverty Action Group Schools has shown that where over 40% of pupils are eligible for free meals those schools will lose out the most. The National Audit Office report identified that schools can expect an 8% increase in their running costs by 2019/20. Out of the top ten areas of the country that lose out under the new National Funding Formula, eight are London Boroughs, including Camden in Mr Dismore’s constituency, which stands to lose around £8 million.
Mr Dismore asked the Mayor:
The Government’s latest scheme will cut the funding for 70% of London schools. One of the Conservatives’ biggest cuts – 88% – is to their own flagship Free School programme. Do you agree that this will inevitably impact on pupil numbers in other schools with consequent further funding pressures? Do you agree that the Conservative Government is in utter disarray after their sorry list of U-turns attempting to plug the gaps in schools funding with no new money, instead of providing adequate funding levels? What action can you take to prevent London’s school children losing out on a good standard of education?
The Mayor said that the Government’s response was disappointing. Later in the year he will be launching a new initiative, ‘Schools for success’ but the GLA did not have a statutory role for schools. The only way the Government permits a new school to be opened is through the Free Schools programme, so if this is now cut, bigger class sizes of over 30 were likely. Headteachers in 65% of schools have said they will be reducing teaching posts in future years. The Mayor feared that London schools would revert from the best in the country with the last Labour Government’s investment, back to underperforming. With the impact of Brexit and migrants returning home or not coming, London faces a skills gap so the Government should be investing in skills, not cutting budgets.