‘Camden schools to share headteachers and lose staff due to £16million cuts,’ claims finance chief
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Teachers could face redundancies and schools may be forced to share headteachers under government plans to cut education funding in Camden by up to £16million a year, claims the council’s finance chief.
In June, as part of the government’s spending review, Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to reform funding for schools across the UK by introducing a new national funding formula from 2015.
Cllr Theo Blackwell, Camden’s cabinet member for finance, said the new system was part of “a policy of equalisation” aimed at sharing funding more equally across the country’s schools by reducing the traditionally higher funding afforded to inner city schools.
He added: “The government are saying, ‘It doesn’t matter how deprived an area is, we want the same amount of money to follow pupils regardless of whether you live in Buckinghamshire or Somers Town’. That’s going to hit our schools very hard.
“They are using this policy of equalisation because they don’t believe that poorer areas should have more money.”
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Under the proposed new funding formula, the council estimates a 10 per cent cut to the £162million it receives annually from the government in schools funding.
Cllr Blackwell warns this will have very serious consequences for each of Camden’s 57 schools.
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“Schools for the first time since the 1980s will face very challenging budgets,” he said. “This hits their revenue so we’ll see teachers being made redundant and schools will have to start sharing headteachers.
“Camden has prided itself on delivering high quality primary schools and we do have the best in the country but that is going to be seriously under threat. There is a fear that school standards will slip and it’s very worrying.”
But Cllr Blackwell insisted that the council would honour its pledge to reintroduce free full-time nursery provision for children at council-run facilities for the next two academic years and would continue the service beyond 2015, despite the proposed cuts.
He said: “We will have to make further cuts in other services [to sustain the nursery provision], such as adult social care, the voluntary sector and street cleaning – it will have a knock-on effect.”
Cllr Claire-Louise Leyland, leader of Camden Conservatives, hit back at Cllr Blackwell’s comments, describing them as “simplistic”.
She said: “We would all across the country like to have as much funding as possible for our fundamental services but I think we all are aware that these are difficult times and we want people across the country to have what they deserve.
“We want to protect people in Camden but I wouldn’t want to think there are children in other parts of the country that have less than our children.”
The government is now set to consult on the national funding formula plans before any changes are introduced in 2015.