Department for Education

Part of Estimates Day – in the House of Commons at 4:34 pm on 3rd July 2018.

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Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Labour, Birmingham, Selly Oak 4:34 pm, 3rd July 2018

I wonder whether the Minister has any idea how hard schools in Birmingham are finding things these days. It does not really matter if we are talking about LEA schools or academies, because they are all beset by the same funding problems. In Birmingham, the base rate per primary is down by £250. One local school that has made a virtue of catering for youngsters with special needs has lost three experienced teachers, who have been replaced by one newly qualified teacher, and the same school has had to lose five teaching assistants and three dinner ladies.

Let us just look at what is happening to schools in my constituency. In Billesley Primary School, which has been totally transformed thanks to the efforts of one of our most talented heads, the pupil to TA ratio has halved. At Cotteridge, the pupil to TA ratio is down, and it is the same at Colmore Infant and Nursery School, Hollywood, Tiverton Academy, Woodthorpe Junior and Infant School, and Yardley Wood Community Primary School—to name only a few.

Headteachers and experienced teachers are having to vacate their schools for several days a week and tout themselves around as specialist leaders in education, earning £300 to £400 per day just to keep their schools ticking over. That £300 to £400 comes of course from the budgets of failing schools. We are seeing a vicious merry-go-round in which a school that is failing has to sacrifice part of its budget to pay for support from a specialist leader in education, and that specialist leader has to sacrifice the time they should be spending in their own school, teaching the children there, just to earn enough to keep their own school afloat. That is the reality of this Government’s education funding.

The Government’s own workforce census shows that schools in Birmingham lost more than 600 teachers and teaching assistants last year. Just this morning, I received an email from a teacher at a very highly rated primary in my constituency, imploring me to speak out in this debate and tell people how bad things really are. We now find ourselves in a situation where schools are sacrificing ancillary staff, teaching assistants and experienced staff because they cannot afford their salaries, pensions and national insurance contributions. Welcome though any pay rise is, for the head and governors, it of course means another round of redundancies, because this Government have no intention of funding the pay settlement, pension and national insurance contributions. All this is happening against a backdrop of rising pupil to teacher ratios and a shortage of qualified teachers, with more leaving the profession than entering it.

In secondary schools, we have probably yet to see the worst effects, but they are already subject to a shortfall of £500 million per year in funding for 11 to 16-year-olds from 2015 to 2020, with huge cuts to sixth-form budgets for schools in my constituency. Schools have had to scrap the sixth form because of the detrimental impact the funding shortage was having on children in the lower school. The projected loss of income from 2015-16 to 2019-20 for King’s Norton Boys School is £126,195; for Bournville Secondary, the figure is £359,201; for Dame Elizabeth Cadbury, it is £303,606; for King’s Norton Girls School, £182,261; for Allens Croft Primary, £174,347; for Billesley Primary, £178,959; and Yardley Wood Community Primary School, £166,243.