SCHOOL FUNDING CUTS CRISIS MEETING — Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham.

SUTTON COLDFIELD TOWN HALL, SUTTON COLDFIELD, WEST MIDLANDS……4TH APRIL 2017….7–8PM

INVITED SPEAKERS INCLUDE:
Kevin Courtney (NUT General Secretary), Councillor Brigid jones (Birmingham Cabinet Member for Schools), Kath Scott (Boldmere Mums Group), Local Head Teachers, Andrew Mitchell MP (or substitute)

SPEECH GIVEN BY KATH SCOTT — BOLDMERE MUMS GROUP 
https://www.facebook.com/boldmere.mums
https://twitter.com/BoldmereMums

INTRODUCTION:

Good Evening & thank you for being here.
 “my name is Kath Scott I have been running the Boldmere Mums Campaign group since 2012. Boldmere Mums main aim has always been to provide support for the community in relation to any schools issues including admissions queries, school place appeals, and special educational needs enquiries. In recent years Boldmere mums has become an advocate and voice for the local community where local issues are voiced concerns raised and issues tackled with, directness, efficiency, with passion and determination to see fairness and equality applied.

The national union of teachers has kindly ask me to be here today to give a parental perspective on the current plans by this government to reduce school funding. It is imperative that parents like me and you fight these cuts tooth and nail. And it is imperative that we support our teachers and our governors to ensure that our children do not miss out on their entitlement to an outstanding education.

At this point it is worth noting what will happen to our schools should these funding cuts go ahead. I have had discussions with several schools in Sutton Coldfield and the choices they are being faced with are harder than you can image.

We will see many of our local schools having to make incredibly difficult choices. The choices our Schools are being forced to make will have a huge and detrimental effect on our children’s education.

Primary and secondary schools will inevitably need to choose between your child’s education and going into debt. To negate any debt build-up there will inevitably be cuts in support services, some of which are a lifeline to parents & children alike; these include for example:

- Reduction in school nursing provision
- Reduced hours for educational psychology 
- Reduction in Mentoring Services
- Reduction in Counselling Services
- Reduction in Speech therapy

And I am sure you can come up with more examples.

In addition to cuts in support services many of our local schools are considering: 
- Narrowing the curriculum
- Reducing number of teaching staff
- Increasing class sizes
- Reduction in subsidized school trips 
- Reduction of administration staff 
- Reducing the school week. For example:
- Closing schools at lunchtime, 
- Running a 4 day week
- finishing the school day at noon on a Friday, so teaching staff can spend the rest of the day doing their lesson plans (thus saving some schools in excess of £100K a year).

So, lets take for example, an increase in class sizes: As one Primary Head from Cambridgeshire states

“We are running on a skeleton staff. We have some classes of 34; we went up to 35 at one point because we couldn’t afford to open a new class“
Richard Challoner school in New Malden, stated on 17th January that: 
“We’ve had to look at our curriculum offer and say “well we can’t offer computer science to this year group because we can’t replace that member of staff”.

So, these cuts that our schools — here in Sutton Coldfield — are considering; are already happening across the country!

LET’S ALLOW THAT TO SINK IN FOR A MOMENT!

Now, why are these drastic options being considered? 
It’s not just the reduction in funding brought on by the National Funding Formula.

It’s: 
National Insurance Contributions
The Pensions Deficit
The Apprenticeship Levy
The Education Services Grant cuts
And then 
It’s the Funding Cuts

And let’s not forget……

The knock-on effect of these changes to our schools will create additional financial implications for our families too, with more childcare costs and increasing difficulty in getting that care for our children.

Special Educational Needs?

In a press release from the Prime Minster’s office on 9th January this year; & as part of the Mental Health Services Reform: Theresa May stated that “every secondary school in the country to be offered mental health first aid training”;

This, I see as another support service, that schools themselves will no doubt need to fund. This to me is a misguided promise and an additional, social and financial responsibility, put on an already stretched education service.

There is no way that these additional responsibilities can ever be made real with the significant cuts being implemented by the government.

So, where does this leave our children with special educational needs? I’ll tell you where it leaves them, it leaves them at the bottom of the pile.

These cuts in funding will UNDOUBTEDLY create an even larger education gap between those who are and those who are not vulnerable in the classroom. And that…that is not acceptable.

Already, I am seeing evidence of children leaving school with significant mental health issues. Children leaving school to be home schooled because they can no longer cope as there is little to no support available for their special educational needs.

Justin Gray, guest blogger on Schools Week.co.uk states that 
- “The compliant children with strong memorisation skills will be rewarded while those who struggle academically will be less valued” 
and 
- “those who defy authority will be sanctioned and then excluded in ever greater numbers.”

A Primary School in Cambridgeshire
- “We have a boy in a wheelchair who needs one-to-one support but he’s not funded for one-to-one, so I’m pulling staff from other classes”. 
David Waugh, Poynton High School:
- ‘I can’t afford my own special needs coordinator, so I share. I’m a school of 1,500 and the other school has 1,100 students’

In the West of England:
- ‘We’ve cut our counsellor’s hours despite suicide attempts’ 
- “.. there’s a fairly big waiting list of kids who haven’t tried to kill themselves and I can’t get them into therapy, because we haven’t got enough capacity. There’s absolutely no help outside of school.
and
- “Everything has been cut. We used to spend lots of money on speech therapy, … but the number of hours has been cut.”
And finally the same Head Teacher States:

- The gap between my kids and some of the other schools in the area is widening at a frightening rate.

What does the EFA have to say

In an article from Schools Week on 7th March;

Tony Foot, the director for funding at the Education Funding Agency, said “he was worried the funding formula and the school budget pressures are “getting a little blurred”.
Foot said 
in times of “greater restraint”, implementing the funding formula is a “necessity to make sure the money available is going as far as possible and allows schools to plan for the future”.

And our local MP echo’s that narrative:

Boldmere Mums have been contacted by concerned parents; and one parent shared the response they received from Andrew Mitchell MP around the funding cuts.

In his response he states:
“The proposals will help schools to make the best use of their resources and manage cost pressures by directing resources where they are needed most, and by giving schools greater certainty so they can plan ahead with confidence. I am encouraged that support will continue to be provided to schools to help them become more efficient and manage their budgets well, helping them achieve the highest standards for their pupils.”

Now, if you don’t agree with this response; please do get in touch with the Right Hon Gentleman; to state your concern.

Because; Quite frankly, 
I see no evidence that schools are NOT managing their resources and cost pressures well. I also see no evidence that schools will become more efficient and I certainly see no way schools can achieve high standards for pupils with no support or funding! In fact, the evidence so far, is very much contrary to this opinion.

And here is more evidence from across the country; of what we can expect to see happen in our Schools here in Sutton Coldfield:

A school governor from the north-west has stated:

‘We have cut back on hours for teaching assistants and are still working out where to cut next’

Yorkshire: ‘

- We are in a deficit budget, a deficit which is predicted to grow in the next three years. Merely 18 months ago we became outstanding, but now as staff leave we can no longer afford to replace them with experienced practitioners, which means that the quality of teaching and learning is falling.

In Worcester: 
- ‘I would like to teach. I do not have the resources to do it’

- We are in a redundancy process. We have had departmental budgets cut by 50%.

And

- The cuts are stopping me doing my job. They are stopping the students from learning.

In London: 
- The impact of budget cuts are likely to be the following: we will cut trips to be cost-neutral, probably not replace staff or if we do they will be trainees.
And in Suffolk: 
- Budget cuts on our local primary school mean that for the first time the school management has had to ask for volunteers to work in every school year, every day.

Why it is our moral duty to stand and fight these cuts

Because, every member of staff is fundamental to ensuring schools are good and improving…because every additional service our schools provide for our children are an absolute necessity.

I, for one refuse to allow our Schools & their staff, who do their very best to give our children an outstanding education, to have to make these choices. Its despicable.

I, for one, will fight these cuts, I will campaign with our Schools and with the Unions to protest these cuts to the nth degree. It is up to us, as parents to SUPPORT our Schools in the fight against these cuts. In two years, when it comes to pass and our schools are no longer Good or Outstanding; it should not be for the want of US ALL trying.

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