London success threatened by cuts plan, councils warn
Spectacular improvements in London’s state schools are being risked by ministers’ plans to cut £24m a year in education funding, the capital’s local authorities are claiming.
The 33 boroughs say a Whitehall proposal to slash by a fifth a grant they use to support school improvement, pupils with special educational needs and education welfare, will undermine school standards in London.
Mayor Jules Pipe, chair of their lobbying group, London Councils, said: “London local government is determined that efficient and high quality education is delivered across London and has led the way in ensuring school and pupil outcomes continue to improve – the capital’s schools are now the best performing in England and Wales.
“Parents, Ofsted and the law all see a local government role in supporting rising education standards.
“The changes in the government’s consultation sit awkwardly with this and will result in confusion for parents about who is responsible for tackling performance issues in all local schools."
His warning comes before the publication tomorrow of a major study by the CfBT education trust and the Centre for London think tank, which is expected to partially attribute dramatic improvements in the capitals’ schools over the last decade to local authority support.
The threatened cut to councils’ education funding would come in from 2015-16. The boroughs say it is part of “a government vision that seeks to limit the local authority role in school improvement to support all schools”.
The councils also say the plan does not recognise London’s higher staffing and delivery costs and want an adjustment made to take them into account.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We recognise that these savings will be challenging but we are protecting the overall schools' budget in real terms up to 2015-16, including the pupil premium. This reflects our determination to protect frontline budgets that pay for the effective running of schools up and down the country.
“Our consultation into the Education Services Grant closed on 19 June. We will carefully consider the responses we received and respond in due course.”
An in-depth look at the transformation of London's state schools will appear in tomorrow's TES. Read the magazine on your tablet or phone by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Subscribe to the magazine here. Or pick it up in all good newsagents.
The challenge now is to hang on to this success - March 2011