Tower Hamlets schools hit by £24m government funding switch away from inner city education
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No fewer than eight Tower Hamlets schools have lost funding this year reaching more than £100,000 each, according to latest figures from the National Education Union.
They are among 31 schools in London’s deprived East End which are facing a total of £24m cuts from a change in government funding formula, Tower Hamlets Council has learned.
The biggest loss is Whitechapel’s Mulberry School for Girls which has £282,000 slashed for the current school year.
Stepney Green Mathematics College loses £181,000 while Green Spring Academy (formerly Bethnal Green Academy) has £160,000 swiped.
It’s not just secondary education that is hit. Osmani Primary in Whitechapel loses £221,000, with another four primary school budgets each having more than £100,000 lobbed off—St Anne’s and Canon Barnet in Whitechapel, Hermitage in Wapping and Malmesbury in Bow.
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“The government has consistently cut and underfunded our public services,” Mayor John Biggs said. “So it falls to local councils to defend people against the worst of the austerity programme and give schools a much-needed boost.”
The council’s three-year budget plans to be approved next month earmarks £97m for two new secondary schools and £4.9m for Early Years education.
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An alliance of the council with education trade unions and MPs is warning that schools will be hit by yet more cuts by the new National Funding formula which takes cash from inner city schools and redistributes it to other areas, with Tower Hamlets facing a net loss of £24m in the next 10 years.
Danny Hassell, the council’s cabinet member for schools, said: “It’s only going to get tougher.
“The small amount of additional funds for special needs offers only a fraction of the current level of what’s needed. We’re forecasting more pressure with rising numbers of children with special needs.”
The funding formula was changed during 2018 following lobbying by the F40 group of more-affluent local authorities in rural areas which believed they were being underfunded.
The Prime Minister has said her aim was to increase social mobility. But this was challenged in an open letter last January by 24 local authorities representing more than a-million schoolchildren in Britain’s inner cities, including Tower Hamlets and neighbouring Hackney and Newham.
No school in a deprived area should suffer, they argued. It has now emerged that Tower Hamlets alone will be £24m worse off.
The cuts have caused alarm among special needs teachers after the Schools Forum was told last month about £1m cuts in the council’s ‘support for learning’ service which is going into the red by almost £3m.
This follows the mayor’s decision to finally close three remaining council-run day nurseries which cater for toddlers with disabilities, despite a four-year campaign and objections from 35,000 people in a petition to the town hall in November.
The council’s specialist support service was set up in 1993 to make sure children with sensory, physical and learning needs were kept in mainstream education rather than be sent to special and expensive placements far from home.