Teachers at Poplar school threaten to strike over plans to axe staff and cut hours

Teachers at Langdon Park School are threatening to strike. Pic: Arnaud Stephenson)

Teachers at Langdon Park School are threatening to strike. Pic: Arnaud Stephenson) - Credit: photo: Arnaud Stephenson

Teachers at a debt-ridden secondary school in Poplar are threatening strike action over plans to cut hours and more than 10 per cent of staff.

Langdon Park School in Bright Street, is proposing to close for a half day every Tuesday and axe nine teachers and nine support staff to save £800,000 over four years.

The school is proposing the cuts to plug a financial blackhole caused by a £400,000 deficit and £1.35million owed to Tower Hamlets Council in unpaid loans.

Union members say they are “committed” to paying back the money owed. However they claim the new restructuring proposal, coupled with central government education cuts, would be “completely unworkable”.

Paul McGarr, joint head of maths at the school, said: “We know we have to pay them and no one wants to shy away from that.

“But you absolutely can’t take 18 staff out of a school and pretend that isn’t going to cause damage to education.

“These children are worth just as much as the children at any public school and they shouldn’t be paying for someone else’s mistakes.”

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There are 1,100 pupils aged 11 to 18 at the school which sits in one of the most deprived areas of the capital.

A spokesman for Tower Hamlets Council said in 2016/17, the council allowed the school to go into a deficit of £850,000 to address financial difficulties.

He added: “The school agreed to repay the sum over five years with a restructure of teaching and support staff posts to take place.

“However, the school later took the decision not to carry out the agreed restructure resulting in further financial difficulties.

“Earlier this year, with new leadership in place at Langdon Park, the council agreed a further loan of £500,000 to prevent the school from becoming financially unsustainable. A revised restructure is now taking place.

“The council is confident that the proposed changes will not have a detrimental impact on the education of pupils at Langdon Park.”

Last year recruitment agency Teachingjobsinlondon.co.uk said schools in the borough could be forced to sack 891 teachers, putting it second from top on a list of the worst affected local authorities in London due to funding cuts.