At yesterday’s meeting of the County Council, the Conservative administration massively downplayed the urgency of the funding crisis facing the County’s schools. The crisis, which has already seen teachers losing their jobs, class sizes increased and subjects cut, is set to get very much worse in coming years.
Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson, Cllr Mark Watkin, presented letters from the heads of nine successful secondary schools describing how they were being forced to reduce teacher numbers, cut teaching assistants, increase class sizes and cut subjects. Each school is facing cuts of £2-300k in their budgets and have little option but to lose staff.
In a motion presented yesterday (Tuesday 10th Nov), Mark simply asked that Councillor Robert Gordon, the Conservative Leader, write to the Education Minister in support of the Chair of the Schools Forum. Alan Gray, Head Teacher of Sandringham School and Chair of the Forum, which represents all schools in Hertfordshire, had written to the Minister responsible for schools funding expressing his concern about the impact real-terms cuts would have on the quality of education that Hertfordshire Schools could provide.
The Conservatives passed their own motion instead, which despite evidence from officers reports and letters from Head Teachers, utterly failed to acknowledge the shortfall of £28.3m in schools budgets next financial year, and the growth of that shortfall to a £70m deficit in 2019-20.
Mark commented. “My motion was not radical. I simply asked the Council to recognise the depth of the crisis that Secondary Heads face and write a supporting letter to the Minister. By downplaying this they have sent out a very negative message to parents and Hertfordshire Schools.”