Cutting our future: a tax on opportunity
Since 2010 Southwark has lost out disproportionately. The Lib-Dem/Tory Coalition targeted our community for cuts that saw us lose out in almost every area. As a direct result of Tory and Lib Dem Ministers' poor priorities, we've lost over 200 police officers and PCSOs, seen fire service cuts including a station close, our council has lost £200 million in central Government funding and local people have lost out further through tax credit changes, benefit cuts and other measures all leaving hundreds of people in work using food banks.
Not content with this damage, the Tories are trying to now cut future opportunities - seeking to axe £1,050 per pupil from our schools' budgets. Effectively an 'opportunity tax'. Our community is targeted with the highest cuts per pupil anywhere in the country. Bermondsey and Old Southwark schools lose more than anywhere else according to Government figures. A full breakdown of these figures can be found by searching by school here or on this table.
The Government should be ashamed of its track record of undermining schools. They've increased class sizes and brought unqualified teachers into classrooms. They've tripled university fees, with Lib Dem help. They've axed the EMA which was helping boost many young people's educational attainment. They've had to u-turn on forcing all schools to become academies. They've insisted on opening free schools where they weren't needed or couldn't work - with one a year closing since they were first announced, including in Southwark.
Local schools have continued to deliver excellence despite the challenges. Southwark schools provide a better education for local children. On top of excellent teaching, some have provided breakfast clubs to help families managing limited finances. Many have dedicated welfare advisors to support families in difficulty. Primary schools have been helped by a Labour council providing free, healthy school meals to help families and boost educational attainment (a policy opposed by Lib Dems on the council).
But local teachers and head teachers tell me they face significant challenges. In particular, recruitment has been extremely tough and losing thousands of pounds per year will mean empty posts cannot be filled and recruitment will be even tougher. Southwark's growing population and baby boom also needs taking into account. Funding is required to meet higher student numbers, but the Government want to axe school budgets. This will leave schools struggling to meet the standards they want to deliver and our children deserve.
The Education Secretary Justine Greening seeks new meaning to 'post truth politics' by claiming her new funding formula plans will 'end historical unfairness and underfunding' when they will do the opposite. Her proposals are unfair and will chronically starve Southwark schools. The Government should not be cutting our future away by targeting Southwark children in this way for some of the deepest and most damaging cuts. It's a tax on opportunity and must be opposed.
You can see the I newspaper coverage of this issue here
And Guardian coverage of this issue here
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