The key les­son over school cuts

Rise in class sizes is dam­ag­ing

Yorkshire Post - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR -

TO­DAY’S DIS­CLO­SURES about teacher short­ages, and the ac­com­pa­ny­ing rise in class sizes, is not just about the fu­ture of ed­u­ca­tion. It is an is­sue which is also in­te­gral to the re­gion’s fu­ture eco­nomic pros­per­ity. Un­less more stu­dents from this re­gion com­plete their for­mal stud­ies with the qual­i­fi­ca­tions that will al­low them to suc­ceed in an in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive global econ­omy, York­shire – and the North – will re­main at a dis­ad­van­tage.

Yet, while busi­ness and po­lit­i­cal lead­ers have high­lighted the im­por­tance of skill as part of pol­icy de­bates on the North­ern Pow­er­house and also York­shire de­vo­lu­tion, this is an­other is­sue, like trans­port, where the Gov­ern­ment has not shown the nec­es­sary ur­gency. Though the long­stand­ing fund­ing for­mula for schools has been re­fined to re­dress some im­bal­ances, Min­is­ters have still to heed calls for York­shire to re­ceive the level of in­vest­ment en­joyed by the cap­i­tal when the ‘Lon­don Chal­lenge’ was launched. Then schools in Lon­don were among the worst in the coun­try. Now they are re­garded as the very best thanks to un­par­al­leled in­vest­ment. And while aca­demic re­sults in York­shire have steadily im­proved in re­cent years, the North-South di­vide is still stark.

It is why re­duc­tions in teach­ing posts, class­room as­sis­tants and an­cil­lary sup­port are so dis­turb­ing. Not only does the loss of 850 staff in the past year mean that there is less sup­port avail­able for pupils, but the re­gion’s pupil-teacher ra­tio is now the sec­ond-high­est in the coun­try and ex­pe­ri­enced teach­ers – those with the most to of­fer – are leav­ing the pro­fes­sion in per­turb­ing num­bers. As such, Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Damian Hinds has some im­por­tant home­work to com­plete if he is to make the grade – what more will he do to boost the re­cruit­ment and re­ten­tion of teach­ers, and when will York­shire re­ceive suf­fi­cient fund­ing to meet its needs and po­ten­tial?

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