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Losing sight of the things that really matter

Date: Tuesday 14th March 2017

Sir, The respected Institute for Fiscal Studies published a report highlighting that the Government is to cut school funding per pupil for the first time since the mid-1990s — the last time there was a Tory government in office.

The IFS has calculated that real-terms spending on school pupils would drop by 6.5 per cent. over the course of this Parliament, with further education funding also set for significant decreases.

Sixth formers have faced the brunt of government cuts, with spending per further education (FE) student falling by 6.7 per cent. between 2010-11 and 2015-16 and a further drop of 6.5 per cent. expected over the next few years. It means that funding for 16 to 18 year olds is set to be no higher than it was almost 30 years ago.

Now we have the ridiculous decision to place Kirkby Stephen Grammar School in special measures because it doesn’t have a Trump-style fence around the perimeter.

The school has been placed in special measures despite the fact that the teaching is rated as good in all aspects, the headteacher’s leadership is praised and its A-level results last year were the best in the county.

Our son is in his first year at the school but already feels a great loyalty towards it and enthuses daily about the teachers and the teaching. He feels safe and supported at the school and told an Ofsted inspector so, when asked.

His experience confirms the impression we gained at last year’s open evening of a happy, inclusive, thriving school where teachers and pupils not only respect but like one another.

Isn’t this all that any of us want for our children’s education? These are the things that ought to matter.

There is a real crisis in our schools, and the workloads of teaching and support staff are through the roof. The funding cuts are biting and leading quietly but remorselessly to redundancies right across Cumbria and elsewhere.

Valuable educators are being lost to our children. In February the headteacher of a school in Wokingham quit her job over the cuts and its impact on her ability to deliver the kind of education the children at her school deserve.

But putting up a fence must have first call on the school’s budget; we have truly lost sight of the things that really matter. Yours etc,


Kirkby Stephen.

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