Birmingham schools in crisis: massive government budget cuts will affect nearly every school

An average cut of 12% across the city amounts to the loss of 3000 teachers and classroom assistants by 2019, only 2 years away – on average 6 in every primary school, 15 in every secondary school.The cuts affect every state funded school in the Birmingham local authority area, including academies and faith schools. The total reduction is £108m. This is the equivalent of the average salaries of 2960 teachers. Of course there are other school staff whose jobs are at risk, especially teaching assistants. We are hearing news that some primary schools are already making teaching assistants redundant. And already many schools are asking parents to pay.

You can find the individual estimated cuts figures for every school in Birmingham at www.schoolcuts.org.uk.  Here are some typical examples:

Budget cut by 2019 Reduction per pupil Cut in number of teachers
Rookery primary school £263,202 £613 7
N Birmingham Academy £1,143,636 £1,322 29
Yardley primary £366,327 £470 11
Northfield Manor primary £254,570 £621 7
Turves Green Boys £389,927 £754 11

 

But the fightback has begun. Every school union, including the headteachers’ unions, is opposing the cuts. Parents around the country are protesting. Here in Birmingham a hundred parents, teachers and supporters launched the campaign in a public meeting in Sutton Coldfield.  Speakers included the NUT, the NAHT, Cllr Brigid Jones and the Boldmere Mums group (see them on Facebook and Twitter). We need similar meetings and protests all around the city. (See news of the national campaign at http://www.fairfundingforallschools.org/)

These cuts are taking place when the whole school system is in crisis as a result of Tory policies. Below we publish, with thanks, an overview by Reclaiming Schools, a network of researchers at over 20 English universities. Visit their website at www.reclaimingschools.org for more evidence and analysis.

 Schools in Crisis

Teacher morale is rock bottom

A climate of fear reigns in many schools.  Headteachers frightened of Ofsted are burdening their staff with pointless tasks. A quarter of teachers work more than 60 hours a week. 1 in 4 new teachers quit within three years, and thousands of experienced and successful teachers fall ill due to stress then leave. Many new teachers are inadequately prepared through fast-track training schemes.

Nearly 1 in 3 children are growing up in poverty

Around 4 million children are in poverty, and benefit changes are driving up the numbers. Most of their parents are trapped in low-paid jobs.

Children often suffer poor health and inadequate housing which affects their education. Adolescents growing up in areas of high unemployment become demoralised and lose interest in school. Most children on free school meals underachieve at school.

The chances of social mobility are now very limited. Meanwhile, during this period of Austerity, the super-rich have doubled their wealth. We are living in one of the most unequal societies in the world.

Poor prospects for the young

Young people who get to university end up with crippling debts. There are few opportunities for the rest. A small minority gain apprenticeships, often with poor quality training. Many are offered short-term college courses and low-level qualifications, or shift between low paid jobs and unemployment.

Testing 4-year-olds

Children are being judged in their first weeks at school. They are sorted into “average ability” or “low potential” on the basis of inaccurate tests.

Young children need time to play and explore. They should be learning to communicate and relate and experience, not be drilled with rote learning.

Half of 11-year-olds are told they are failures

Impossibly difficult tests are set by the Government at the end of primary school. Half our children are starting secondary school carrying failure labels in Reading, Writing or Maths.

Test preparation is swallowing up more and more time at primary school. Little time is left for history or geography, music or art, PE or projects.

Grammar schools for a few will mean low-quality schools for the rest

The Prime Minister’s plan to extend grammar schools across the country means a worse education for the vast majority.

In areas with selection at 11, low and middle income families are discriminated against. Only 1 in 20 get to grammar school from the poorest fifth of the population. Even among the middle fifth, 3 out of 4 children are consigned as 11+ failures to inferior ‘secondary modern’ schools.

A mental health crisis among young people

Our country is almost the worst country in Western Europe for young people’s satisfaction with their lives. This generation are suffering unprecedented stress, exacerbated by the fear of exam failure and an insecure future.

Asset stripping: schools removed from democratic control

Most secondary schools are now academies, run by private bodies with no democratic control. The same is happening to primary schools.

Though many academies are good schools, the system is out of control. Chief Executives are extracting huge salaries from money that should be spent on children. Large contracts are handed out to friends and relatives.

8 June – time for change

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