Under this Government,
schools in Merton are set to lose a staggering £1,820,818 between 2015 and
2020, despite 40% of primary schools and 60% of secondary schools in the
borough having had to cut staff since 2014.
That’s what makes the achievements of Merton's
schools even more remarkable. Under the most testing of circumstances, Merton’s
schools are ranked as the best performing in the country – a fantastic
achievement that every single Governor, Head Teacher and staff member should be
incredibly proud of.
But our schools are under immense
pressure. And behind the facts
and figures are the governors, pupils and teachers struggling to cope.
Before the debate,
a group of teachers wrote to Siobhain from their staff room.
“We are stretched beyond belief. Corners are being cut, stopping the
breadth of the curriculum and yet, despite the setbacks, we are expected to
produce better outcomes than ever before! We’ve even run out of pens, glue
sticks and basic stationary!”
Schools have been
admirably shielding their pupils from the damage these cuts are causing, but
they can only do so for so long. And these are schools facing hardship like
Head Teachers have now written to Siobhain from across the constituency and
here are some shocking and saddening extracts from their letters:
- We see children who eat their lunch very
quickly, whilst ‘protecting’ their plate with an arm as they eat.
- If he won the lottery, one child said he
would go food shopping to buy lots of cereal and porridge to fill him up
and keep him warm.
- We believe that a significant number of our
children are so used to feeling hungry and cold that they do not recognise
- We have children in temporary accommodation
changing schools several times, impacting them socially, educationally and
The Government argues that it is trying
to distribute funds more fairly. But it fails to address the uneven battle that
those in the most disadvantaged areas face to even attend a good school in the
first place. A child living in one of England’s most disadvantaged areas is 27
times more likely to go to an inadequate school than a child living in one of
the least disadvantaged. Spreading the funding evenly, therefore, does not
fairly share the opportunity.
For there will be almost no real-term
winners under this Government’s proposals. The cake needs to be bigger for
anyone to get a bigger, fairer, slice.