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HomeNewsPoliticsSchools minister insists 'over-funded' Southwark will see cuts

Schools minister insists ‘over-funded’ Southwark will see cuts

A “bullish” Nick Gibb told key Southwark figures to brace themselves for school funding cuts which will still be going ahead.

Cllr Peter John and the borough’s MPs – Neil Coyle, Helen Hayes, and Harriet Harman – met with the schools minister to make the case for Southwark last week.

But despite their explaining the devastating effect the Government’s national funding formula would have on Southwark students, Mr Gibb insisted the borough was adequately funded.

“The minister’s response was that Southwark schools were funded adequately and they needed to expect cuts,” Cllr John said at a council meeting last week.

“He was clear that this was going to go ahead and that headteachers would simply have to find a way of making it work.

“It is clear from our meeting that the Government has not properly considered the consequences of the cuts to Southwark.

Helen Hayes MP pictured during a demonstration against school funding cuts

“The minister’s view was that schools could cut things like electricity bills and IT spending to make up this funding shortfall. However, with around 70 per cent of a school’s budget being spent on staff salaries, electricity bills will not be enough.

“This proposal clearly means fewer teachers and support staff posts in schools, as well as increased class sizes and a narrower curriculum.”

Neil Coyle, MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, described Mr Gibb as being in a “bullish mood” at the meeting.

“The minister was in a bullish mood and insisted Southwark schools are somehow over-funded despite the additional challenges our borough faces,” he said.

“Some local schools, including St Paul’s and the English Martyrs, in Walworth, and St Saviour’s and St Olave’s, at the Bricklayers, have seen budget cuts already in recent years as well as other schools withdrawing curriculum due to resource pressures.

“Add to that existing pressure the Government’s demands for higher national insurance contributions and new pensions costs and budgets are even more squeezed.

 

“The Government should be learning from the good work in Southwark and must not penalise success here.”

Mr Coyle said he did manage to get one commitment from Mr Gibb, who agreed to roll out a free website to help schools recruit staff.

“Some local schools lose tens of thousands of pounds in agency fees when seeking new teachers,” said Mr Coyle. “I hope the Government deliver this potential cost saving before further cuts and costs are rolled out.”

Cllr John also thanked parents and the SPACE (Southwark Parents Against Cuts in Education) campaign who have continued to put pressure on the Government to reconsider the funding changes.

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