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Where I stand on the Situation in our Schools

May 14, 2017 9:57 PM
By Martyn Pennington

Liberal BirdWe all know that schools are being forced to sack teachers because of funding cuts. This is a huge waste of training costs but even more, a waste of our best resource - our people, whether teachers or young people. Schools are not delivering the high-class outcomes and well-educated young people which we need to thrive in a modern economy.

According to a major recent survey, two out of every three schools are being forced to cut teaching staff (Times, 10 May). Results from 707 primary and secondary schools across 14 counties found they plan to get rid of 1161 teaching posts and 1595 assistant posts. 1 in 5 of the schools was cutting 3 or more teachers. Some schools are withdrawing GCSE and A-level subjects to cope with their new budgets. ICT has emerged as one of the most vulnerable subjects. Schools were told their budgets will be cut by £3 bn (7%) by 2020. The Conservative claim of record funding for schools was called 'disingenuous' by one head teacher, because of the baby boom; spending in real terms per pupil is being slashed.

Again we find the Government guilty not only of underfunding but also of mismanagement. Instead of addressing the need to improve the whole system, they want to tinker with it for nostalgic reasons and bring back grammar schools. This will do nothing to improve the school system for most children and nothing to give most teachers a more balanced lifestyle in which they can devote time to individual pupils and prepare better lessons.

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to increase funding for Kent's schools by over £47 million. Of this, about £24 million will be through increased per pupil funding, about £10 million through the pupil premium which we introduced in the coalition, and about £13.5 million through adjustments to the funding formula. We want to see every child succeeding.

We will work with the teaching profession to ensure that they can deliver the best results and get satisfaction from their work. This country has to ensure in future that we make the most of our best asset, namely our people.