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Havering schools forced to make cutbacks thanks to government budget cuts

PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 April 2017

Broadford Primary School and Bower Park Academy. Picture: Google Maps

Broadford Primary School and Bower Park Academy. Picture: Google Maps

Google Maps

As the government continues to make cuts to schools’ funding across the country, it is predicted more than £16 million will be axed from Havering’s budget by 2019.

Concern mounts as classroom sizes gradually balloon while savings are desperately trying to be made wherever possible by reducing staff, extra-curricular activities and school trips.

Secretary of Havering National Union of Teachers (NUT) Ray Waxler believes the “crisis” will mean parents being asked to volunteer their time will become “commonplace” at schools.

He said: “Many Havering schools have either already carried out, initiated or are planning restructures, aimed at reducing staff in all areas of school life.

“The crisis of recruitment and retention of teaching staff, is exacerbated by the funding crisis – not least as the already grotesquely excessive workload continues to increase.

“Secondary schools have already reduced or plan to reduce some teaching areas, notably art, music and sport.

“School trips and extra-curricular activities are also in the firing line.

“Requests for parents to provide voluntary contributions across a broad band of provisions is likely to become commonplace.”

Earlier this month, the Recorder reported that Bower Park Academy, Collier Row, and Hall Mead School, Upminster, have both set up JustGiving pages to raise money for new facilities which they cannot afford due to budget cuts.

Bower Park Academy’s Stuart McLaughlin was also one of a group of headteachers to visit Parliament in January to tell MPs the true extent of reducing funding.

At the meeting, he said: “I have cut my teaching to the bare bones.

“Every teacher is teaching at full capacity.

“I am now starting to hit the support staff and my worry about that is it’s going to affect the most vulnerable students.”

Broadford Primary School, Faringdon Avenue, Harold Hill, could face the biggest loss for primary schools in Havering with a predicted budget cut of £250,401 by 2019.

In terms of secondary schools, Redden Court School, Harold Wood, tops the list as it could lose out on near to £1 million in the next two years.

Executive headteacher of Broadford Primary School and Mead School, Malcolm Drakes said: “This financial year, we are going to start scaling back what we are able to offer to the children.

“The number of clubs is going to be dramatically cut back from September.

“In addition we have already reduced the number of teaching assistant roles as staff leave. To avoid redundancies we will also be looking to avoid hiring new support staff as the school continues to expand, which will inevitably involve the existing staff having to do more.

“Building improvements are significantly reduced in scope.

“Our ability to invest in the playground and add new equipment is not what it used to be.

“At Mead, there are more than £700,000 worth of improvements and repairs identified but we only have £9,000 a year to put towards the bill.

“Broadford is only able to have a contingency of £8,000 this year - the recommended level is nearer £35-40,000.​

“However, the worst of the cuts are yet to hit us.

“We expect the situation to be much worse for 2018-19 and 2019-20.

“At that point, unless something changes, we will have to really review how we meet the needs of the children.”

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