Jonathan Lewis, the head of education in Peterborough, doesn’t strike me as an hysterical scaremonger.
So, when he says the funding situation in city schools is “as bad as I’ve ever seen it’’ and warns that schools are on the verge of closing some days, we should all be very concerned.
We all know schools in the city have struggled to produce the exam results we’d all like to see, but if head teachers are spending their time desperately trying to plug huge holes in their budget it is taking them away from their primary function – the care and education of our children.
In real terms, Peterborough schools funding has been cut by 10 per cent. That is bound to hurt.
Add to that increasing pupil numbers and it’s clear our schools are facing a perfect storm.
And that’s without even mentioning Peterborough’s historic issues of many pupils not having English as a first language, so-called ‘churn’ and teacher recruitment.
The threat of schools having to close is a desperate indictment of this government (presumably Eton’s not affected by this).
Such a move would not only be to the detriment of children’s education, it would be a nightmare for working parents trying to find someone to look after their children.
The answer is simple – schools need more money. But it’s more than that, Peterborough schools need a fair deal. They get £2-3,000 less per pupil than London schools.
The city council is writing to education minister Damian Hinds.
Hopefully he will read it and realise he’s got his sums wrong.
But minister, if there’s a spelling error in that letter, it’s your fault.