'Our schools are facing an existential storm': Council education chief warns of worrying future
PUBLISHED: 08:00 23 January 2020
"I think schools are facing a real storm at the moment, an existential storm."
Camden Council's education chief Cllr Angela Mason didn't sugar-coat the worrying situation ahead for the borough's schools at the Crowndale Centre on Monday.
The Cantelowes councillor concluded a debate on "21st century education" by explaining local schools were under severe pressure and said: "We have a combination in Camden of real budgetary constraints, falling resources while need is increasing, falling school rolls and we also potential face quite significant changes in educational policy."
Fears for the future were echoed in the council chamber by Professor Christine Gilbert who runs Camden Learning, a "local partnership" between teachers and the town hall. Prof Gilbert - a former Ofsted chief inspector - said: "The issue about money is worrying. There's real fear in Camden and across London about what's going to happen in terms of school funding.
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"My worry is schools will look inward and not come out as much as they have been doing now. We have to try a number of things, some of which will fail. The pressure from the funding takes away risk."
Headteachers from four schools spoke in the debate, as did Camden youth MP Athian Akec, 17.
Robin Street, who runs UCL Academy, said: "All the answers about schools are about building partnerships. It's fundamental to the way in which schools need to be working."
Meanwhile, Nicholas John, head at Acland Burghley in Tufnell Park discussed "making sure that performance measures remain our ally and in no circumstances should these mean sacrificing children". He also spoke about the immense safeguarding challenge posed by the internet, adding: "It is one of the biggest threats to young people. It's an unusual issue because the children themselves have grown up in a way that the adults and teachers supporting them haven't."
Cllr Mason said the council had been hit by 24pc real terms reduction in education funding since 2010, and changes to pupil funding formulas are widely expected to see money channelled away from London.