Election latest: school cuts

Local schools facing further Tory cuts in 2020

Ark Castledown Primary Academy in Hastings faces a £131 per pupil shortfall next year

There will be £1.5 million less spent on schools in Hastings & Rye next year – with the squeeze on budgets now reaching crisis proportions. In East Sussex as a whole, it is a loss of £11 million.

The cuts, which affect 23 out of 30 schools in the constituency, are on top of what has been a constant tightening of school budgets over the past five years, according to figures released by teaching unions, including the National Education Union and National Association of Head Teachers.

It translates locally as an average loss in 2020 of £118 per pupil. But in some cases it is much more: 

  • St Leonards Academy is facing a £448,474 shortfall – that’s £311 less per pupil.
  • The Hastings Academy is braced for a £360,064 funding shortfall, or £407 less per pupil.
  • And at Ark Castledown Primary Academy, where Conservative candidate Sally Ann Hart is a governor, the shortfall will be £48,237 or £131 less per pupil.

In real terms, this means postponing repairs to school buildings, and in some cases putting up with leaky roofs. And it has resulted more and more instances of teachers having to provide their own materials.

Worse still, some schools are no longer employing teaching assistants.

The lack of a back-up for teachers is particularly hard – especially in classes of 30 or more which have a large number of pupils with special needs.

One teacher in a local academy told us: “We have children with complex needs, such as autism, Aspergers, dyslexia and attention deficit disorder (ADHD) who are not getting that one-to-one educational attention that they need.”

“You are one teacher on your own in a large class of 11 to 16 year olds and as well as the special needs, around 40% of them come from disadvantaged backgrounds, no one in their families have been to university, so they have a lack of aspiration and need a great deal of motivating.”

Children are losing out …
their educational needs
are not being met

Behaviour has also worsened at the newly merge Ark Alexandra academy following the decision to scrap a dedicated Behaviour Team. “We were seeing behaviour we had never seen before,” he said.

Nationally, nearly all schools in England are worse off than they were five years ago, according to the research, which has been fact-checked and verified by the Institute of Fiscal Studies.

Like his predecessors, Boris Johnson has promised to “level up” school funding across the country.

But even the highest estimate of the prime minister’s promised spending, schools with be £1.3 billion worse off in 2022/23 than they were in 2015/16 — the biggest shortfall in a generation.

Labour’s Peter Chowney is the only candidate in the Hastings & Rye parliamentary election to have signed a pledge to vote against school cuts.

Cuts in school funding
have placed impossible
burdens on teachers

Labour in its manifesto says it will make sure schools are properly resourced, with increased long-term funding, while introducing a fairer funding formula that leaves no child worse off. It will also invest to upgrade schools that have fallen into disrepair.

Mr Chowney said: “Cuts in school funding have led to reductions in activities outside the national core curriculum, as well as cuts in teaching assistants, placing impossible burdens on teachers. 

“School performance in Hastings & Rye isn’t good, with three of our secondary schools appearing in the worst six in the whole of Sussex according to the Real Schools Guide. 

“Labour will introduce a National Education Service, restoring funding to schools and making sure all schools are democratically accountable. We will also scrap university tuition fees and reintroduce student maintenance grants.”

About The Author

Rick Dillon, Press Officer for Peter Chowney