Before coming back to Malton, the town where I was born and spent 18 years of my life, I was a teacher in London working in Hackney, Islington and Barnett. I felt for myself the impacts of Tory austerity, not just on my pay but also on the service we were able to offer the children, the educational opportunities we were able to provide and the equipment we had available to us. Now back in Yorkshire, as a dad whose daughter will start school with the full impact of austerity realised I am appalled by what this government is doing to a local authority that has been Conservative for as long as I can remember.
Here in Malton and Norton, we have three primary schools and two secondaries, all of which have taken a real battering from the ideologically driven austerity from this Tory government and the Tory/Lib Dem coalition before it. Norton Primary school is estimated to lose £72,446 from their annual budget by 2020 or to put it another way that is 2 highly experienced teachers salaries, or nearly four teaching assistants. Malton Primary will loose will lose £7,796 and St Mary’s will see a drop in £15,683 or £114 per pupil from their annual budgets. These schools are an essential part of our local community and a striving hard to become outstanding. The pressure the teachers there are facing will already be high, with rising class sizes and budget cuts meaning less in-class support from teaching assistants less time available from senior staff to assist and support teachers developments (as they will be increasingly needed to cover sickness, planning time and staff training). All this means our children will face a rougher start in their educational careers.
The secondary schools fare no better. Malton School, which I attended from the age of 11 to 18, will lose an estimated £207 per pupil or £112,701 from their annual budget and Norton College loses £118,957 per year by 2020. This again represents teaching staff cuts, equipment shortages, fewer trips, and fewer clubs that help our young people after school.
Schools across the country are facing huge cuts to their funding and in September thousands of headteachers marched on Westminster to tell the Tory government that enough was enough. I doubt very much that, given these painful cuts are set to continue for at least the rest of this parliament, many schools will be impressed with the pitiful cash that was offered to schools in the recent budget, equating to roughly £10,000 per primary school.
As I said at the start North Yorkshire has been a Conservative area for as long as I can remember. Yet the impact of austerity is felt in our county very keenly I might of course have more sympathy for our tory led council’s plight if they didn’t reward themselves with banquets after cutting transport for disabled children.
Perhaps it is time for a change. Time for a better government, better councils, and a better deal for our teachers, communities, and children.