Education & Family

Schools face cash crisis, head warns parents

Enfield Grammar School Image copyright Enfield Grammar School
Image caption Schools budgets will not be enough to cover rising costs, says a London head teacher

A London head teacher has written to parents warning them of a looming "financial crisis" in secondary schools in England.

John Kerr, the head of Enfield Grammar, an academy school, says the budget plans of major political parties will not be enough to cover rising costs.

Mr Kerr said difficult decisions would have to be made as a result.

He said his school was considering cuts to some subjects but warned this "would narrow the curriculum".

'Damaging cuts'

"The only way we can make this order of savings is to get rid of people's jobs, or to increase class sizes, which is very difficult to do because rooms are a finite size, and you can't squeeze more students in to a classroom that we've got at the moment, quite frankly."

Mr Kerr told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme the school had already considered cuts to what he termed "the minor subjects like music, art" - but he warned "that would really narrow the curriculum severely for our students".

He has urged parents to challenge general election candidates about what he called "deep and damaging" cuts.

His letter says that within three years many secondary schools will face having to make significant savings of up to £1m in some cases.

In the letter Mr Kerr said this has been caused by increased pupil numbers as well as rises in teachers' pay and schools having to make increased employer contributions to staff pensions.

Speaking on World at One, Conservative education minister Nick Gibb said he acknowledged there would be "budgetary pressures on schools" and that he believed they would have to become more efficient.

"They're sharing back office services, they're procuring better and we provided advice to schools about how to get better value from the procurement they're making.

"There will have to be decisions made about how to deploy staff - but schools should not be reducing the curriculum.

"Art and music and D&T (design and technology) are terribly important, core academic subjects in our schools," said Mr Gibb.

'Unfair'

The shadow education secretary, Labour's Tristram Hunt, told the programme: "It is schools which are having to pick up the costs of the bedroom tax, the attacks of local authority spending, the attacks on social care.

"So you might think that school budgets are being protected, but what they're having to do is have all this investment, jump through all this hurdles before the child can begin learning because of the unequal, unfair way that the Tories and the Lib Dems have approached cuts to public spending."

The president of the Liberal Democrats, Baroness Brinton said her party would protect schools' budgets.

"As Liberal Democrats, we absolutely understand the pressures that schools are facing.

"And that's why we want to provide inflation increases and extra funding for the large number of increased pupils coming in, which will help amongst other things to mitigate against the increase in pension contributions that schools will be facing in 18 months' time."

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