Over a third of Londoners with children in schools have been asked to make financial contributions to ease pressure on budgets, according to a new report for London Councils, the body that represents the capital’s 33 local authorities.
The report, prepared by YouGov and based on a survey of over 1,000 London parents of 5-16-year-olds, also found that more than half of respondents are being asked more often for financial help due to the impact of reductions in school funding levels.
Greater London is to receive a smaller proportion of the additional schools funding announced by the government for 2018/19 and 2019/20 than other English regions, meaning that 73% of the capital’s primary and secondary schools are making cuts in order to cover rising costs and balance their books. Inner London schools are the hardest hit.
YouGov’s survey also showed that 63% of London parents expect the budget of their child’s school to be reduced even further in future and that 84% believe that budget reductions would have a detrimental impact on the quality of education provided.
Peter John, London Councils’ executive member with responsibility for schools (and also leader of Southwark Council), said that “paying for school activities or making regular monthly donations is not always easy for parents” and placed an unfair burden on them because “the true cost of running schools is not being recognised by the government”.
The rising costs of education in London include a growing number of children with disabilities and special educational needs and higher salaries for teachers and support staff. The latest exam results show that London school pupils as a whole continue to secure better results than their peers elsewhere in England, especially at GCSE level.
“London’s schools are the best in the country and we are concerned that the lack of adequate investment to cover real terms costs could slow down their success,” John said. “Getting education right is vital to the growth of our economy, which is why we are committed to working with government to ensure appropriate levels of investment in schools in London and across the country in order to continue to drive up standards.”
In September, London Councils called for an additional £1bn from national government in the three years to 2022/23 in order to meet growing demand for school places in the capital. Current projections suggest a shortfall of 63,710 primary and secondary school places by that time.
The new report, the fifth in an annual series called Ask The Parents, also found a sharp increase – from 25% to 38% – in the proportion of London parents who feel that their child’s school does not receive sufficient funding to operate effectively and that 75% believe the government should increase spending on education and schools.
The full Ask The Parents report is here.