Mayor vows to fight for schools in the face of Government budget cuts

24 February 2017

-London's children 'hardest hit' by funding changes

Cuts to school funding will significantly hit pupils across the capital, undermining everything London’s teachers have worked to achieve  and damaging London’s reputation as an education leader, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said today.

In a keynote address to education leaders and experts from around the globe at his first Education Conference at City Hall, Sadiq Khan called on the Government to invest in the education sector and increase standards across the country by giving schools the resources to match London’s high overall performance.

Seventy per cent of London schools face reductions in funding under the Government’s new proposals for the national funding formula*, currently under consultation. This comes alongside the threat of an eight per cent real-term shortfall in funding per pupil across the country by 2019-20, as a result of £3 billion worth of cuts.

The capital’s schools are the highest performing in the country but are already under considerable financial pressure and experiencing severe problems recruiting and retaining teachers due to the expense of living in the capital.

London Councils, who represent the 33 boroughs in London, estimates £335m extra would ensure no school across the whole of England loses out in the new formula.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “At a time when our capital’s schools are already dealing with looming budget cuts and struggling to recruit teachers, it is completely unacceptable that the Government has chosen to hit London’s children the hardest. As a Mayor for all Londoners, I want to see our young people get the best chance in life possible, with funding going into local schools rather than expanding a selective system. London has reaped the benefits of investment and become an international beacon for education, with a proven track record in supporting disadvantaged pupils.

"However, these proposals risk undermining everything our excellent teachers have worked to achieve. A miniscule portion of the budget would ensure no school across England has to lose out in this formula, and I am committed to working with education leaders to fight strongly for a fairly funded school system and nurturing our capital’s young talent for generations to come.”

Cllr Claire Kober OBE, Chair of London Councils, said: “An extra £335m from Government would ensure no school in the country loses funding as a result of the new national funding formula.

“It has been our long-held belief that investing in education would give all schools the tools to match the educational success that London has achieved.

“When the impact of introducing the new formula and wider cost pressures are taken into account, every school in the capital will face budget squeezes in the years ahead. The consequences of poorly-funded schools will reverberate across the capital and affect all Londoners, which is why we are pressing Government to review its stance on schools funding.”

Richard Slade, Headteacher of Plumcroft Primary School in Plumstead said: "If the proposed funding cuts were to happen then my school will be unsafe. I'm already cutting staff and services to try and deliver a balanced budget, so to make even more cuts would mean a large number of redundancies. Standards will fall and the needs of our most vulnerable pupils will not be met. I have made it clear to my governing body that if I am required to implement the cuts then I will refuse on the grounds of safety and negative impact on standards."

Today’s conference coincided with the publication of the Mayor’s Education Annual Report, which describes the success of London schools in supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils. However, the report details how inequality is still an issue for many London children, and how improving early years’ education is key to tackling this. It also outlines the Mayor’s pledge to work with schools and colleges to focus on careers and high quality apprenticeships, particularly helping girls and pupils from minority backgrounds into the science, engineering and technology sectors.

Joanne McCartney, Deputy Mayor for Education and Childcare, said: “We know the gap between disadvantaged children and their peers appears early, and increases as children progress through school. That’s why we’re focusing on improving early years education and making childcare affordable and accessible to all parents, as well as working to ensure there are enough childcare facilities and school places in the city. Excellent teachers are the backbone of our education system and it’s vital we nurture our talent so they can help all young Londoners reach their full potential, whatever their gender, ethnicity or background. We will be working with teachers to feed in to the Mayor’s ambitious new vision for education in the city which will steer our work with schools, boroughs and the wider education system over the next three years.”

Internationally renowned ballet dancer Darcey Bussell also spoke at the conference about the importance of music and dance within education, before presenting the Mayor’s Music Education Award, celebrating schools which demonstrate an outstanding commitment to music, to St Charles Catholic Primary School in Kensington & Chelsea and Woodford County High School in Redbridge.

Notes to editors

*London Councils analysis

  • The Government’s national funding formula proposals are out for consultation until 22 March.  The Mayor and London Councils will be making formal responses.
  • To read the Mayor’s Annual Education Report, visit: www.london.gov.uk/edu-report-2017