Coventry teacher hits out at government for pushing schools to 'breaking point' - The Coventry Observer

Coventry teacher hits out at government for pushing schools to 'breaking point'

Coventry Editorial 18th May, 2023 Updated: 18th May, 2023   0

A COVENTRY science teacher has hit out for letting schools get to ‘breaking point’ after ‘a decade of underfunding education.’

Chris Denson, who is also the joint district secretary of Coventry National Education Union, was speaking after the issue was raised in Westminster last week.

Mr Denson said he felt education was in the biggest crisis for generations as the resources needed to meet the demands of students aren’t available during a time when they need support more than ever.

He also claimed pay cuts for teachers are fuelling a ‘recruitment and retention crisis’ meaning youngsters are taking classes taught by non-specialists.

Mr Denson said: “Any decent society knows that children are the future of our communities, and if we want a highly skilled and highly productive economy then we should be investing in education rather than presiding over the deterioration of our education system- our children deserve better.”

Last week, Mr Denson was one of several teachers from across the Midlands who attended a debate in Westminster Hall, secured by Coventry South MP Zarah Sultana, to raise concerns over the situation faced by schools and colleges in the region.

Speaking at last Tuesday’s debate, the minister for skills, apprenticeships and higher education, Robert Halfon, defended the government’s record, claiming that by 2025 school funding would exceed 2010 levels.

A 2020 report by the Institute for fiscal studies (IFS) showed English school spending per pupil fell by nine per cent in real terms between 2009-10 and 2019-20 academic years, the largest cut in over 40 years.

However, government statistics show funding for schools has increased by 10.3 per cent over the four academic years following 2019-20.

An IFS report following the 2022 autumn statement, which committed to an additional £2.3billion for schools in the next two academic years, shows the expected real-terms growth rate between 2022–23 and 2024–25 will be 5 per cent when taking into account that school costs are growing faster than overall inflation.

The report revealed using this inflation measure, school spending per pupil will return to 2010 levels by 2024–25, but said no real-terms growth in school spending per pupil over 14 years represents a ‘significant squeeze on school resources.’

In addition, funding per student in further education and sixth-form colleges fell by 12 per cent in real terms between 2010–11 and 2019–20.

Ms Sultana said underfunding, oversized classes and the struggle to hire and retain staff have contributed to situations such as at Coventry College, which was recently forced to stop offering apprenticeships following an inadequate Ofsted rating.

The report said too many apprentices did not receive the training they needed to be successful.


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