Union warns of ‘widespread’ teaching job losses in borough under school cuts
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Newham schools could be facing a “widescale loss of teacher and teaching posts” under the next round of swingeing government cuts, a union has warned.
Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said the union has estimated that as many as 500 teachers and 1,000 teaching assistants could lose their jobs over the next five years as the borough’s schools face a potential education funding black hole of 17 per cent.
He said: “The NUT is very worried about cuts in schools in Newham and the potential for widescale loss of teacher and TA posts.”
However a Department for Education spokeswoman has dismissed the NUT’s comments as “irresponsible scaremongering”.
She said: “We are taking constructive action to ensure schools have the resources they need. We have gone further than promised by protecting the schools budget in real terms and will introduce a new funding system so areas with the highest need attract the most funding.
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“We will consult on the proposals in due course. Until then any speculation on the impact of those changes is just that.”
Mr Courtney argued the new funding system could take away money from Newham’s schools if education lobby group f40 was able to influence the legislation with its aim of “a system which allows the lowest funded councils to catch up” with higher funded local authorities.
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The campaign group’s considerations were cited in the government’s latest spending review in November.
Mr Courtney said that more than £54million could be slashed from the 2015-16 individual school budget – standing at just over £300m – under the scheme, when coupled with a real terms fall of eight per cent in school spending over five years as predicted by the Insitute of Fiscal Studies (IFS).
This is the first time schools will suffer cuts to funding after spending was protected under the coalition government.
Mr Courtney said although the NUT’s figures were only estimates, even if the IFS’ figures were taken into account alone, it could still result in job losses of more than 200 teachers and more than 400 teaching assistants.
He said: “It’s very hard to make the scale of savings without cutting salaries – because it’s such a big proportion of the school budgets. There is another possibility – that class sizes are increased dramatically. Neither option is good for Newham’s children.”
Mr Courtney’s remarks come after he spoke at Newham United Against Austerity, a new campaign opposing austerity measures and further public spending cuts by the Conservative government.
The inaugural meeting, which was held at University of East London, Stratford, on Saturday was attended by shadow chancellor John McDonnell, West Ham MP Lyn Brown, Newham councillors and trade unions.
Sir Robin Wales Mayor of Newham said: “Any cuts to funding for Newham schools will damage the huge regeneration potential of the borough and undermine the great strides the council and our teaching staff have made in bridging the attainment gap between our pupils and those from more affluent backgrounds.
“F40’s proposals are a poorly disguised attempt to siphon funding away from the most disadvantaged pupils in England and redistribute it to some of the most privileged parts of the country. Under their formula, Newham would be set to lose £32.8million, the second biggest cut in the country.
“The 30 most deprived local authority areas in England would lose more than £245million per year, while the 30 least deprived would stand to gain £218million.
“This government must do more to increase the funding pot available to our schools. Any new funding formula must be fair to ensure that every child gets the best start in life and must not be based on those local authorities who shout the loudest.”