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Cuts in Camden

posted 6 Dec 2010, 04:05 by Unknown user

Camden Council Cabinet meeting 1st December 2010

posted 2 Dec 2010 14:08 by Andrew Baisley

Camden Town Hall was swamped by over 500 parents, students, teachers and council workers opposing the cuts that have been forced on the Council by the government.

The text of Camden NUT's deputation is below:

In last month’s comprehensive Spending Review, George Osborne promised that he was providing sufficient funds to protect schools and that he just wants to cut red tape. 

So I am dismayed that the cuts before you tonight are almost universally to front line services. Every parent and student in Camden will feel the effect of these cuts. 

Some of these cuts speak for themselves such as the closure of two children’s centres, the introduction of charging for nursery places and the closure of the play service but other changes need more explanation. 

Camden has excellent early years provision. Ensuring a good start to a child’s education is extremely important especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Taking this provision away will be much more expensive to make up in later years. Also ensuring a good start to education for everyone is in every child’s interest, it means that classes are more focused and purposeful because every child can meaningfully engage with the curriculum. 

The cuts proposed to special needs break my heart. Camden is recognised as having the best special needs service in the country. Camden has been a leader in developing outreach work for children at risk of exclusion and in teaching good behaviour. Cutting the current provision to the legal minimum will be an immense change for Camden’s schools. Schools rely on these professionals to help deal with challenging behaviour and because the work done is so effective Camden has a low rate of exclusion and classroom behaviour is very good. This is again a case where helping a few children at an early stage is much cheaper, more effective and benefits all children. 

The cuts to school support services may sound like they are not going to effect children but again these are hardly bureaucrats. Camden’s superb music service is to be cut and schools will opt in. The City Learning Centre is a resource used by many schools particularly our primaries where computers are scare and they give access to IT for children who don’t have computers at home. And whilst the training and development service is not on the front line, having highly trained teachers makes a big difference to the education we provide and the same goes for the advisory service. 

To conclude, this package of cuts will hit schools hard and in the wallet too. Because many of these services are provided free to Camden’s schools and schools are now going to have to buy in replacement services at a time when school budgets are at best going to be tight. So despite George Osborne’s claims these cuts will take money out of schools. 

Whilst I want to plead with the cabinet not to make these cuts because these are vital services that are being threatened, I understand that the responsibility for these cuts rests in Downing Street not in this Town Hall. 

And finally I have a message for the opposition councillors, last night I sat through the scrutiny committee and had to listen to LibDem and Tory councillors demanding the the council instruct schools to seek volunteers to replace the play service that is up for closure. The suggestion that a professional service could be replaced by volunteers is as insulting as it is impractical. But also the idea that schools which are losing essential services and cut budgets should then squander their scare resources recruiting, training and organising a volunteer army is deeply ignorant of the reality of the difficulties this government is creating for schools. If those members are genuinely interested in protecting education then they need to go and lobby their political leaders in Whitehall and call on them not to savage education. 

In 2007, Ofsted said of Camden’s central services: 

“Camden Council consistently delivers services well above minimum requirements for children and young people. Outcomes for children and young people are good despite the significant social and economic challenges they face. The council is proactive, innovative and ambitious in supporting children and young people.” 

That is what is at risk tonight. I call on the cabinet to join Camden’s teachers, parents and students in taking that message to Downing Street.

Education cuts in Camden

posted 2 Dec 2010 14:07 by Andrew Baisley

Camden Council has announced their cuts package for the borough. The Council estimate that central government has cut somewhere between £80 million and £100 million from grants to the Council. The government have also banned the Council from increasing Council Tax to protect services. So David Cameron and Nick Clegg bear the full responsibility for these cuts.

The cuts to education are deep and will particularly hit staff in central services. The plan is to reduce Children Schools and Families budget by £15 million over the next three years. The biggest cuts are to the special needs provision which is being reduced from the best service in the country to the legal minimum.

Early Years
Close two children’s centres
Introduction of charging for under 3s
Grants cut to community nurseries

Special Needs
Reduce SEN services down to legal minimum
End outreach work with children at risk of exclusion
End support for schools from the SEN team
End support for students on fixed term exclusions

Stop provision of breakfast clubs
Stop after school clubs
Stop holiday clubs

School support services
Cut the service to the legal minimum
Cut Camden music service
Cuts to the City Learning Centre
Cut the training and development service
Cut the school improvement service

Camden has never made a teacher compulsorily redundant but when I asked for assurance that this policy still stood – no reassurance was given.

We will shortly learn how many teachers’ jobs are threatened by this first round of cuts, but I believe all Camden teachers should stand together to resist the cuts.

Camden NUT, along with Camden UNISON, have called a lobby of the Council meeting on Wednesday night that will ratify the cuts package. I urge you to attend if at all possible.

No to ConDem cuts in Camden
Camden Town Hall, Judd St, WC1
6pm Wednesday 1st December

Flyer here: http://bit.ly/gAyEdQ