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TEACHERS have stepped up their demands for action on the government’s collapsing academies programme after it was revealed that six of the top 10 academy trusts have issued warnings over pay, short-staffing, building safety and financial risks.
Many of the largest trusts, who operate hundreds of schools across England, are at risk. Eight academies at one trust are in the red. At another chain, 17 out of 66 academy schools are in deficit.
There is a “perfect storm brewing” in England’s schools as a result of the government’s obsession with academies, warned teachers’ union NEU joint general secretary Mary Bousted.
“Inadequate government funding is forcing schools to set deficit budgets at a time when 800,000 more children are going through the school system,” she said.
Academies take schools out of local democratic control and hand them over to unaccountable founders or private chains. They have been rocked by scandals over bosses’ high pay, low-quality education using unqualified teachers, and corruption.
The Department for Education “does not have adequate oversight of how multi-academy trusts are spending taxpayers’ money,” Ms Bousted said.
“Rising chief executive pay at a time of teacher wage austerity raises even more questions about the proper use of public money which should be spent on children’s education.
“This crisis was predicted and predictable. We are now beginning to see the unravelling of former education secretary Michael Gove’s toxic legacy.”
English schools have had their budgets cut by £2.8 billion in recent years, and the National Association of Headteachers has previously warned that schools are “at breaking point.”
“The government cannot keep burying its head in the sand about the school funding crisis. If it is left unaddressed it will have serous consequences for our children and young people,” NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney added.
“Ensuring schools have sufficient funding must now become the top priority for new Education Secretary Damian Hinds.”
Artin Giles, a teacher in a north London academy, told the Star that schools are being “starved” of funding.
It is directly worsening children’s education, including through “bigger class sizes, limited provision for special educational needs and a lack of basic resources such as textbooks or glue sticks.”
The Department for Education tried to distract from the cash crisis by issuing a statement pointing to its new “national funding formula.”
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