London School funding
Yesterday morning (29th March) I spoke in a debate in Parliament on London school funding. I have previously written to the Education Secretary about cuts to funding for schools in Tottenham, and also held a public meeting earlier this month.
Government cuts to school funding will see schools in Tottenham schools lose 8% of their budgets - equivalent to around £15 million - by 2020. This equates to over £600 per pupil, or the salaries of almost 600 teachers.
It is truly shocking that a Government claiming to be committed to social mobility is pushing through cuts to school funding that will do so much damage to the life chances of young people, particularly disadvantaged young people living in deprived areas. I will continue to fight these cuts every step of the way.
"I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Helen Hayes) on securing this debate. I think that the tone has been very measured, but I say to the Minister that back in communities across London there is tremendous fury, frankly, at what the Government are proposing.
I really want to warn him. I went to school in the 1970s in London; I have seen schools in the 1980s in London, and I am deeply worried that we will be returning to that story in this city. When London slips back, as night follows day, the nation slips back on education. London’s contribution to our GDP is bigger than at any time since 1911. This is a very dangerous move. The Government simply cannot talk about social mobility and about families that are just getting by, and see the sorts of devastating cuts that we are hearing about right across the city.
I think of the Willow Primary School on the Broadwater Farm estate—no one at that school is well off—and of the six teachers and all the learning mentors that it might have to lose. I ask the Minister, with all sincerity, how he can stand by the cuts. When he says to my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar and Limehouse (Jim Fitzpatrick) that Tower Hamlets is the best-funded local authority in the country, has he knocked on doors in Tower Hamlets? Has he seen the deprivation that exists in Tower Hamlets?
The Minister knows, as we all do, that the education debate in this country is not between state schools in deprived areas of the country, but between the state schools and private schools. That is the big gap, and that is what any Government with any ambition to raise the standards of children across the country should be seeking to match, not cut. Let us not have this fake debate about redistribution across already deprived constituencies, when the real debate is how we level up to the standard of private schools. When he says, “Look, you are getting just under £7,000 in Tower Hamlets,” let him remember that a child that goes to Eton means £33,000 a year. That is the debate. If he is sincere about social mobility, he will go back to his friends in the Treasury and ask for more.
I have been asked by this Government to do a review into the disproportionate number of black and ethnic minority young people and adults in our criminal justice system. I have to warn the Minister that this situation will lead to more young people in our pupil referral units, and more young people in our young offenders institutions and prisons as a direct result. That is because teaching assistants help to keep the peace and order in our schools, and help with kids with special needs, and they will have to go. It is because a class size of 30 or 32 kids is hard on one teacher. I commend all teachers committed to teaching in deprived constituencies; it is a vocation that none of us should forget about in this debate.
I say to the Minister, do not just interrupt Members and quote the figures blindly at us. We know what this is about. This is a direct cut of the education budget. The Government are turning their back on a commitment they made when they first came into office, and we must and will hold them to account."