Funding, academies and SATs: Haringey politicians debate education issues at St Mary’s Primary School in Hornsey
PUBLISHED: 18:15 18 May 2017 | UPDATED: 18:21 18 May 2017
Funding for education in Haringey came under the spotlight last night as politicians, teachers and parents came together for a ‘question time’ style debate in the run up to the General Election.
The meeting, held at St Mary’s Primary School in Hornsey, was set up by Fair Funding For All Schools – a parent-led campaign formed in Haringey in response to the cuts facing schools across the country.
Answering questions from the audience were Hornsey and Wood Green parliamentary candidates Catherine West (Labour), Dawn Barnes (Lib Dems), Emma Lane (Con) and Sam Hall (Green), as well as Fair Funding For All Schools co-founder Jo Yurky and Bounds Green headteacher Will Wawn.
With the borough’s schools facing cuts of £24.4 million by 2019/20, the equivalent of £743 less being spent on pupils annually, funding was the central theme of the evening.
Mrs West: “Theresa May says that she wants all people to live up to their potential, but how can they with these terrible cuts which the Conservative party has introduced. It is unacceptable for education to be sidelined.”
“The Conservatives want fair funding for all,” responded Ms Lane “We will provide strong and stable leadership in this process.
“We need a bigger slice of the cake and more needs to be done to find funding for education.”
Green party representative Mr Hall said: “We have been let down by the Conservatives and as a result we are seeing crowded classes, stressed out teachers and penniless schools.”
Liberal democrat candidate Ms Barnes said: “We want to give teachers more time to operate – at the moment they are being bombarded.”
Ms Yurky, who has two daughters at Rhodes Avenue Primary School, said that as well as school clubs and staff facing the chop, arts subjects could be marginalized and marked as “not economically viable”.
She also raised concerns that Haringey parents were being asked by some schools to donate money to plug the funding gap.
“This is not sustainable,” she said. “There is also inequality as not all parents can afford to donate.”
Mr Wawn said that because of the lack of funding for education “no-one is happy”, but called for more respect to be shown for the teaching profession.
He said: “There needs to be a change in the tone in which teachers are spoken about, which has been demeaning and dismissive to the profession.”
Ms West said: “There is a terrible morale in teaching at the moment and that has a knock-on effect on our students.”
“Teachers are not getting enough time to do their prep work,” Ms Lane added.
One of the loudest cheers of the evening came with the Green Party suggestion for SATs to be scrapped, while there was also plenty of apathy towards academies from the audience.
Ms Lane, who admitted she was “no expert” on the subject, said: “If by some miracle I become your MP, I will certainly take a look at how free schools and academies are working in Haringey.”
Described as “very bad value” by Ms West, Mr Hall said that free schools and academies should be brought back under the control of the local authority.