Council calls on government to reverse ‘horrendous’ school cuts

Islington Town Hall. Photograph: Islington Council.

Islington Council has united to condemn “horrendous” cuts to school funding which it claims are curtailing opportunities for children across the borough.

In a 20 September full council meeting, it was agreed the Town Hall would urge Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds to reverse cuts which have resulted in an estimated £6.4 million funding shortfall for Islington schools.

Cllr Joe Caluori (Lab, Mildmay), executive member for children, young people and families, who proposed the motion, began by praising Islington’s students for a best-ever set of GCSE results in 2018.

Cllr Caluori said: “They’ve done really well, and we need to thank teachers, parents, unions, and of course, the pupils for all of the hard work that has made our schools such a success.

“We’ve managed to hold together a strong community of schools against a backdrop of a government who want to remove local councils from having a role in education.

“We’re inreasingly looking at the budget cuts that are coming down the road and we wonder how we are going to make ends meet. The cuts are ideological and irresponsible, and have serious implications for our children.

“Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are particularly vulnerable to cuts. Our high needs block has a shortfall of £2.3m between 2016-18, and we know that there are further pressures to come.

“We really still believe in Islington that we have a duty to protect all of our children, and ensure that they all have equal opportunities to succeed.”

The council’s letter to Mr Hinds will also contain a call to fully fund a pay increase due this year for teachers, so schools do not have to make redundancies in order to achieve it.

Almost half of Islington schools have had to cut staff between 2014-17, and Cllr Vivien Cutler (Lab, St Peter’s) said the School Cuts campaign has identified that Islington will lose some 99 teachers between 2015-19.

She said: “That’s just totally unacceptable in the 21st century. We need to get this government to understand that it’s their children’s future and their country’s future that they’re throwing away at this time.

“All parents have an experience of what cuts can do to schools. You can’t offer the additionalities that inspire children and offer them new horizons.

“We must work together with our unions, parents and wider community to challenge this government on these horrendous cuts and their implications on the future for all of us.”