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Parents join school cuts campaign as another primary says it cannot afford to replace leaving staff

'The general public don’t seem to realise what is happening to us and the impact on their children'

11 July, 2019 — By Helen Chapman

Sarah Bond collecting signatures for the petition

PARENTS have joined a campaign to stop a financial squeeze on primary schools.

Gospel Oak Primary School, in Mansfield Road, has become the latest school to declare it will not be able to afford to replace some staff who are leaving at the end of term. A school gates petition appealing for funding cuts to be halted has been signed by 250 parents.

Headteacher John Hayes said: “This is an issue for many schools and means, when it comes to ensuring that we meet individual children’s needs, we have fewer people to provide what they deserve.”

Early Years leader Nancy Beggan and Dawn O’Driscoll from Gospel Oak Primary School’s educational and pastoral support team

Four members of staff will not be replaced.

Louise Mason, a parent at the school, helped spread the petition at an event last Friday. It will be delivered by hand to the government next Wednesday.

She said: “We were really shocked by the scale of the problem. “The headteacher explained that the funding cuts were so severe that the school is likely to be running a deficit in the region of £100k and this means that the school will be spiralling into debt.”

Tracey Storey from the educational and pastoral team

The letter, addressed to Education Secretary Damian Hinds, calls for the government to meet with Camden headteachers and listen to concerns. It comes after 40 headteachers signed a letter to parents in the borough last month about the “struggle” schools are facing to maintain the standard of teaching.

Dawn O’Driscoll, from Gospel Oak’s educational and pastoral support team, has worked at Gospel Oak for 22 years. She said: “We put all of our efforts into working with our children and parents. The government might call it little extras but they have no idea what they’re talking about – our headteacher would say we are fundamental to the school. We run the breakfast club, the language clubs, the homework clubs, lots of school events regarding transition to secondary school, so many things.”

She added: “Morale is quite high with us usually but in general across schools now, it is really low. The general public don’t seem to realise what is happening to us and the impact on their children. We are sick to the back teeth with what the government is doing to schools.”

Georgina Durrant, the school’s deputy headteacher, with Kelly Smith and Nancy Beggan at the school’s food sale

Teachers Megan Quinn, Karen Fraser, Sarah Bond, parents Louise Mason and Fay Ballard and Gospel Oak children back the campaign

The school raised £1,000 at its International Evening on Friday, as parents donated home-cooked food for £3.50 a plate at the evening of music and entertainment.

Ms O’Driscoll added: “We now rely on events like this to raise money for the school but it shouldn’t be a question of charity. “I have even approached charities for grants. The money has to come from somewhere. “All staff here go above and beyond to keep this school running to keep giving the children the opportunities that they deserve.”

Romi Begum and children Thoieba Ahmed, Eshaan Ahmed, Sami Hannan Ahmed signed the school’s petition

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “This year, under the national funding formula, Camden local authority received £6,251 per pupil, well above the national average of £4,689. While there is more money going into our schools than ever before, we know schools face budgeting challenges, which is why we have introduced a wide range of support to help schools reduce costs and get the best value from their resources – from a free-to-use vacancy service to cut the costs of recruiting teachers, to advisers who are providing expert help and support to individual schools that need it.”

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