Islington District - National Education Union



 





After relentless campaigning by headteachers, school staff and parents, the Government has finally accepted that schools have suffered billions in funding cuts since 2015. But the Prime Minister's latest funding announcement falls well short of settling the shortfall for every child.

The latest figures from the School Cuts Coalition show that 

53 out of 55 schools in Islington are still in crisis.

Between 2015 and 2020 there has been a loss of  £35.2 million in real terms funding for Islington schools.

This is £444 for every pupil.

You can see how the funding cuts have affected your particular school by visiting schoolcuts.org.uk





Teachers at City and Islington Sixth Form Centre took part in a strike over pay and funding on Thursday 24th October and Tuesday 5th November


This was a national strike by sixth form college teachers called by their union, the NEU (National Education Union), in response to years of funding cuts, since 2010,  that have resulted in:


  • colleges being forced into mergers
  • cuts to courses
  • increased class sizes
  • reduced support for students (for example in mental health, at a time when we know that mental health issues have been increasing amongst young people).

The £400 million increase in funding that has been recently announced by the government does not address the £1.1 billion gap that has opened up since 2010.  Pay has fallen behind that of school teachers and has been reduced by 16% since 2010. 


Of all the 16-19 education provision, sixth form colleges have been hit the hardest, with a 22% cut in funding in real terms since 2010. 

We are demanding that funding per student should increase from £4000  to  at least £4760, rising in line with inflation and that our pay should be brought in line with that of school teachers. 


Pippa Dowswell, NEU Rep at City and Islington Sixth form centre stated: “The funding cuts have had a massive impact on our college.  We have been forced into a merger which has resulted in degradation of all our support services whilst failing to make us financially secure.  There has been a huge impact on staff workload as teachers try to plug the gaps, with a resultant effect on their physical and mental health.  The decrease in pay in real terms has caused the college to lose staff members as they can no longer afford to live in London.  We have always offered a large range of courses for students to study in an environment which is a half-way house between school and University – this essential provision for our young people is being steadily eroded and is at risk of disappearing altogether if we cannot secure decent funding. ” 


Further strike action has been organised for  20th November if our demands are not met.


ISLINGTON TRIBUNE ARTICLE










Tech City “free school” to close: What a criminal waste of money!


 

Back in 2014 Islington NUT (now NEU – the National Education Union) expressed concern that the proposed STEM 6 16-18 Tory free school in City Road threatened to create a “wild west” of schooling provision in Islington, undermining other schools and making it difficult for the local authority to coordinate educational provision in the borough.

Schools, we said, should not operate like supermarkets in a free market which can be opened and closed according to the number of customers they attract.

This week’s announcement that Tech City College - as STEM 6 was renamed three years ago when it was taken over by a different group of private sponsors having “failed” an Ofsted inspection – is to close in the summer due to it being “financially unsustainable” with only 49 students on roll fully vindicates our concerns.

Since it opened in September 2014, teachers at the college – with the support of many of its students and their parents - twice had to take strike action to scrap the zero-hours contracts imposed on them by management, improve on the three weeks paid holidays they were entitled to and to win a fair system of pay progression when the couple running the new sponsor, Aspirations, were paying themselves more than £400,000 per year between them.

In September 2015, local MP, Emily Thornberry, wrote to the then Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, expressing concerns about developments at what was then STEM 6 calling for ‘urgent action’ to rescue this academy’.

Not entirely, satisfied by the response she received from Lord Nash (on behalf of Nicky Morgan) she wrote back to him expressing further concern about ‘considerable difficulties’ at Tech City, including the resignation of seven teachers (half the teaching staff) this term and the ‘little progress towards improving working arrangements and performance management’.

Perhaps at least as worrying to the general public, was another issue she raised in her letter: the apparent misuse of public funds:

  • I remain concerned [she wrote] that STEM [Academy Education Trust] has been permitted to start a school at huge public expense which is failing to deliver an acceptable service to inner-city pupils. A further concern is STEM’s former plans to expand their work into South London. – I understand that Norwood Police Station was purchased by DCLG in 2014, with the expectation that STEM would open a second Academy there in September 2015
  • However, after gaining the DfE approval, and recruiting some members of staff and some pupils, STEM decided to abandon this project, and the building remains empty. This does cause me considerable concern – a public asset which could have provided much-needed affordable housing or other facilities of use to the local community remains empty two years after the mayor closed the police station.
  • I would appreciate your further comments on the DfE’s relationship with the STEM Academy Education Trust –what assessment of the Trust’s plans were carried out before they were permitted to set up an academy in my constituency. Why was the Trust allocated another public building when it had no track record of delivering good quality education? Will the Trust be held liable for any costs in relation to the South Norwood building?

In a press statement we release at the time, I commented:

  • The victims of any inadequacies correctly identified by Ofsted – and the damaging which inevitably follow an inspection failure – will first of all be the students and then the school teaching and support staff, who were provided with patently inadequate support by school governors and senior management.
  • The best way for STEM 6 to get the support and guidance that has been lacking up to now would be for it to be taken over and run either by Islington local authority – whose schools are all either “good” or “outstanding”, according to Ofsted – or by the Ofsted-rated outstanding City and Islington Sixth Form College.
  •  

It is unfortunate we were not listened to at the time, but the principle remains as relevant today as it was then.

It is outrageous that so much tax-payers money – so desperately needed by other schools when per-pupil school funding has been cut by 8% since 2010 – has been wasted on an ideologically-driven Tory crusade to marketize our schools and hand them over to private sponsors.

Remaining students and staff at Tech City today should not be abandoned because Aspirations has failed to make the college “financially viable”.

Instead of being closed, the government should allow Islington Council to take responsibility for supporting the school – possibly in co-operation with the nearby City and Islington College - and to integrate it in to a democratically accountable system of state schooling which meets the needs of the local community.





Plan to convert Islington's Catholic schools into academy group dropped due to lack of interest


















What do we want.....
                                 
 A qualified teacher for every child in every lesson  Allow councils to open new schools where they are needed Consult the profession properly on changes to the curriculum and to examinations  Don’t test the very youngest  Fund schools and colleges properly Remove excessive workload and pointless bureaucracy  End performance related pay for teachers  Reverse unfair pension changes  Ensure government/union talks are about policies rather than just their implementation  Make sure we have enough teachers





As never before, education policy is being driven by ideology not evidence. Every government announcement is laden with myths about schools, teachers and our education system.

EduFacts - http://www.teachers.org.uk/edufacts - aims to challenge government and media rhetoric by presenting the facts about what's going on in our schools, our education system and in the teaching profession.