I have just received this statement from Tower Hamlet's council about the cuts to teaching services that are occurring across the Borough. This is their statement in full, responding to claims made by the East London Teachers' Association, ELTA, the Tower Hamlets' branch of the National Union of Teachers.
As a direct result of huge central government cuts to our funding, the council has had to find £72m worth of savings over the next three years.
This undoubtedly means we have had to make some tough decisions, but our approach throughout this process has been to do all that we can to protect the vital services that families across the borough rely on. This includes streamlining management, not filling vacant posts and using our resources more efficiently such as making more services available online
It is because of this approach that we are one of the few local authorities in the country to not close children’s centres and will in fact be providing services for under-fives from up to 85 locations right across the borough. We will also continue to fund after school care, and will provide schools with continued support that has seen our schools achieve some of the most improved education results in the country.
ELTA claim: 9 jobs are being cut from the team which supports children with Special Needs and children who need behaviour support
The Schools White Paper identified that responsibility for SEN and vulnerable children should remain a core function of the local authority. Therefore, despite the financial challenges facing it, the council has retained all its services to support statutory SEN work (statements of SEN) plus a contingency for critical casework with pupils at risk, including those with behaviour problems. There has been a reduction in the number of posts retained centrally by the council for non-statutory work with children with Special Educational Needs - all these services remain available to schools to buy back though. The LA has worked hard to ensure our schools offer excellent inclusive practice and there is a strong history of buy back between the council Support for Learning Service and local schools, so where schools feel they need more support we are confident they will continue to pay for this.
ELTA claim: 41 jobs are being cut from the team which trains and supports teachers in the work they do;
The National Strategy team, which trains secondary school teachers, has lost all of its government funding. This has resulted in a loss of 9.5 positions across the borough. Support for primary schools will have a reduction of 9 positions. National Strategy team positions will end on 31st March when they will go through compulsory redundancy. The saving will be £249,744. Support for primary staff will have a saving of approximately £558,418.
ELTA claim: Borough-wide support for newly-qualified teachers will disappear
Borough-wide support for newly qualified teachers will continue in Tower Hamlets; however, there has been a recent change in legislation regarding this support. Schools will now have the responsibility of providing support to their trainee teachers.
ELTA claim: 29 jobs are being cut from Children’s Centres; this includes 11 teachers — which goes against all research and evidence
There are currently 197.9 full time positions in children centres in the borough, this will be reduced to 176 full time positions – a reduction of 21.9 posts. Within that total figure 11.5 primary teachers will be reduced to 6 teachers – who will work across our network of children’s centres. There will be a saving of approximately £1million.
If I am interpreting the somewhat "vague" wording here, the Council is saying that SEN provision will continue provided schools "buy" into it; 19 jobs connected with disseminating the National Strategy will go; Borough-wide teacher-support will continue but I suspect schools will have to "buy" into it; 22 jobs at Children's centres will go with nearly 12 of these being primary school teacher jobs.
There's no doubt that the withdrawal of this support will have a big impact upon standards across the Borough. I was talking to a TH teacher just today who was saying that the work the support at the Professional Development Centre has proved vital in the last ten years because she's been very well trained there and knows that if she sends colleagues there they will come back fully trained. This excellent training means that thousands of children are better taught in the crucial areas of numeracy and literacy. She is very concerned about the lack of support there is going to be in reading and maths in the future.
The council have not responded to the ELTA claims that Schools Sports' Co-ordinators are being cut, the ICT centre is being closed and the Junior Youth Centre is being closed.