Local Head Teacher Slams 'Stealth' Education Cutbacks

Tony Ryan of Chiswick School says budget decisions will have major impact

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A local head teacher has slammed the government's position on funding for secondary schools, saying it is implementing 'cutbacks by stealth' which will have a major impact on education.

The Conservative Party plans to cut the budget by more than a quarter — or £13.3 billion a year — by 2020.

Tony Ryan of Chiswick School, who is also Chair of the Secondary Headteachers in Hounslow, says that when he tried to alert MPs to the real impact budget decisions were having on schools he received a "very curt letter" from the Schools Minister, David Laws.

Chiswick School has recently undergone a restructuring programme which he says was "forced on the school through significant mainstream budget reductions."

It is understood there were a number of voluntary redundancies in teaching and administration staff. It is expected that other schools in the borough may begin to feel the pinch soon.

Mr. Ryan said it was "frankly patronising" of the Minister to say that that funding has been maintained ‘in real terms’.

In an end of term letter to parents he states: "As Chair of the Secondary Headteachers in Hounslow, I wrote to Mary MacLeod asking her to make parliamentary colleagues aware of the impact of budgetary decisions made, I believe, without true understanding of the impact this will inevitably have on schools.

"I am of course sympathetic to the reality of the financial situation that this country finds itself in, but in my humble opinion, cutting funding ‘by stealth’ from education is no way to build a firm platform for future economic and social growth.

"In response to the letter written, we received a very curt letter from Schools Minister, David Laws MP, which basically states that these are tough times and schools have to take their share of the pain. To say that funding has been maintained ‘in real terms’ as the letter suggested, is quite frankly patronising. I should state that I firmly believe that our local MP, Mary MacLeod is doing what she can to support local schools against what appears to be a government policy decision to reduce core schools funding."

Mr. Ryan promised parents at Chiswick School that they would not let the funding reductions interfere with progress seen at Chiswick over recent years.

"The governing body, staff and I have a vision for outstanding education at Chiswick that is too big and too powerful to derail," he pledged.

However, it is likely that some secondary schools in the borough may find that as costs rise and funding is not increased, redundancies may have to be made from teaching and admin staff, and spending on areas such as school trips may have to be slashed.

Sixth form departments, which have had funding allocations changed, could suffer badly.New arrangements were made for post-16 education funding for the academic year 2014-2015 last June which allocates funding on a per-student basis, rather than the previous method of funding each learning arm within a student's programme separately. This is likely to mean some subjects are dropped from sixth-form courses.

The Liberal Democrats have accused their coalition partners of putting the education system at serious risk warning that school funding, the pupil premium and free childcare for low income families were all at risk from the Conservatives’ plans to reduce the deficit.

December 17, 2014