Schools budget shock: 'We've lost £110m in just 5 years' Tower Hamlets mayor reveals
PUBLISHED: 10:42 05 November 2019 | UPDATED: 12:07 05 November 2019
© Rehan Jamil
Schools have lost out on £110million of funding since 2015 in Tower Hamlets, equal to £735 for each pupil, new national figures reveal.
It has led to class sizes soaring and subjects being dropped, while school buildings are even falling into disrepair, councillors have been told.
All 87 schools in the East End have been hit by budget cuts for pupil funding, the data compiled by the National Education Union reveals.
"There's no end in sight," Mayor John Biggs said. "These figures reveal just how serious the situation has become for schools over the last five years.
"Class sizes are soaring, school buildings are falling into disrepair and subjects are having to be dropped as school budgets are squeezed."
Schools will have less money for each pupil next year than in 2015 in real terms, according to latest Department for Education figures.
The cuts have squeezed budgets of schools, colleges and services for children with special educational needs and disabilities.
Tower Hamlets received almost £50m last year from Whitehall for special needs, but had to spend £56m to keep the services going, which opened a £6m gap in the town hall's budget.
The mayor joined children and teachers from 60 Tower Hamlets schools two years ago who took a petition to Whitehall about school budget cuts, following changes in the government's funding formula which campaigners said was unfair to deprived areas like the East End.
Two years on, the mayor insists the funding has got worse.
The town hall, meanwhile, has invested nearly £1m in the Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership to push improvements in exam results and "seize the chance for every pupil to achieve more", council cabinet members were told last Wednesday.
The business partnership's annual financial statement showed a surplus of almost £340,000. Yet there is pressure to release some of it.
Partnership trustee Robert Crothers told the cabinet: "We have been challenged by politicians that we're holding too much in reserves. But as a charity we are required to keep back three months minimum operational costs."
Its balance sheet shows working assets of £752,000, nearly double the 2017 figure.
But that's just "a drop in the ocean", councillors fear, to what schools really need to keep basic education going.