Havant headteacher hits out at funding cuts for schools

Warren Park Primary School headteacher Colin Harris
Warren Park Primary School headteacher Colin Harris
Youngsters at Manor Infant School and Nursery celebrate with headteacher Ashley Howard, centre. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Infant school rated ‘good’ four years after being placed into special measures

  • Headteacher says schools have reached a ‘tipping point’
  • Not enough funding for teachers and assistants in every class
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A DISILLUSIONED school headteacher has spoken candidly about the devastating impact of government cuts.

Colin Harris, headteacher of Warren Park Primary School in Havant, said schools have reached a ‘tipping point’ and difficult decisions will have to be made that could have an effect on young people’s lives.

Mr Harris leads a school in a deprived area and is facing a financial shortfall of £41,000.

Writing in TES magazine, he said: ‘The authority I work for has always done its best to ensure funding is both adequate and appropriately placed.

‘However, we have reached a tipping point, a time when many schools and their governors are having to make horrible decisions on funding which will affect the lives of so many children.

‘Without doubt school funding should now be far higher up the political agenda. It is estimated that by 2018 nearly all the secondaries in my authority will be in deficit. I have even heard that some academies are feeling the pinch.

‘Cutbacks in these secondaries will be achieved only if these schools save thousands by stripping down their curriculum and offering little choice. In primary schools, which already work to a narrow prescribed curriculum, we will instead have insufficient funds for teachers or TAs in every class.’

And he added: ‘Schools have been quietly surviving by reallocating money using savings or money put aside for buildings.

‘Just about every leadership team around the country will now be facing the same dilemma.

‘How shall we cut the cloth to fit?’

He said schools should start shouting about the cuts in their newsletters.

He said: ‘Let’s all talk about the reduced curriculum, the lack of adequate support, why the buildings look such a mess and why their child may not have a qualified teacher in front of them.’

Councillor Neill Young, who leads education in Portsmouth, said the authority had made education their number one priority for a reason.

‘We note that education, particularly at secondary school level, is not where it should be,’ he said

‘We need to do more to support schools to become as effective as possible.’

A Portsmouth teacher, who did not want to be named, told The News: ‘The way for children to get professional jobs is for them to get a good education. They are not going to be able to do that without funding.

‘We are creating lots of layers of poverty in the next generations.’