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Letter to Editor: Serious cuts to school budgets were planned long before 2017 election and those cuts are having consequences.

Education: Secondary / Mon 21st Sep 2020 at 09:31am

Sir,

THE extent of school funding cuts across the country, as revealed in the Times Educational Supplement should come as no surprise to anyone. https://www.yourharlow.com/2020/09/18/school-spending-falls-by-almost-ten-percent/

Serious cuts to school budgets were planned long before the 2017 election and those cuts are having consequences. Coronavirus has only exasperated a dire situation – our education system is failing compared to where it was a decade ago.

The funding received by schools per pupil from the government has dropped by a tenth since the Tories took power – to break that down a child starting in year 7 today will have 10% less spent on their education than their older brother, sister or cousin did in 2010.

Just as parent’s budget for a child’s household so too must school leaders budget for their education and as we all know when the purse strings are tight tough decisions need to be made.

Should we reduce support for those pupils that have additional needs, or increase class sizes? Can we afford to replace the worn out furniture, or buy the latest text books needed for new courses? We may have to narrow the curriculum, although that could remove many opportunities for our pupils? All too often, these are the thought processes of our Headteachers. Instead of being set free to think on improving the education of our young people, they are hampered by the constant management of the ever shrinking balance sheet.

Children are missing out on exploring whole subjects that were taught to their parents. Design technology, for example, has been dropped by so many schools that teachers in the subject are struggling to find work. Without the funding their once was – schools can no longer justify funding for the expensive equipment and machinery for a subject outside the core curriculum.

This is depriving our young people of the hands on, vocational learning that can set them on a path to a passion, skill or future career.

Class rooms are packed out more and more. I have personally taught classes of up to 36. Gone are the days where 30 was the maximum, I know of situations caused by a lack of specialists Maths teachers where colleagues of mine have been forced to combine classes and teach up to 60 students at time.

Our young people are being deprived of the vital contact time with teachers that their older sibling or cousins had a decade ago.

Don’t believe it when Conservative politicians tell you “everything is fine”. It isn’t, schools are getting by on a wing and a prayer and pupils’ opportunities are suffering.

As Mary Bousted the joint secretary of the educational union said “Children only get one chance to go to school, a whole generation of pupils have had the whole of their time in school blighted by cuts.”

Harlow’s children, all of our country’s children deserve so much better.

Chris Vince

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