Parents' fury after school's budget cut leaves teacher redundant

March 31, 2010 11:03 AM
St Luke's school protest

Peter Downes (left) and Belinda Brooks-Gordon and Julian Huppert (centre) join parents to fight for St Luke's Primary School.

Cambridge parents are furious after a drop of £40,000 in their school's funding has left a highly-regarded teacher facing redundancy.

Youngsters at St Luke's Primary School in French's Road have been told one of their favourite teachers will not be returning in September after Cambridgeshire County Council cut the school's budget.

The cut came after children registered with the school - recognised as an "outstanding school of the future" in a recent Ofsted report - suddenly switched to Milton Road Primary School after it added another classroom.

And after funding levels were set, 10 extra pupils joined St Luke's at a cost of £40,000, resulting in their places not being included in the school's budget.

Now parents have called for help from Cambridge Liberal Democrats because they claim the unfair way in which the school is funded has added to their problems.

"This has taken us all by surprise," said parent, Harry Gray. "We were shocked to learn that the redundancy process had already started."

Parent, Heidi Mulvey said: "All the parents feel very strongly about this. We don't want this teaching post to be lost. This is a fabulous school with a very mixed intake but it is potentially vulnerable, especially if we are to lose a teacher".

St Luke's is used as a "holding school" for children across the county. It welcomes pupils from all faiths, including many from the Bangladeshi community, children of Visiting Scholars and those from Cambridge's Women's Refuge along with children with very severe disabilities.

The number of pupils with no English or English as a second language is much higher than in most schools. Almost a quarter of pupils are eligible for free school meals, a proportion much larger than that of most schools. The £15,000 extra St Luke's receives for its "holding school" status is not enough to fund the high numbers of children with higher educational and social needs.

Parents fear that the school could be a target for even more cuts since it lost a number of ancillary staff posts two years ago.

Julian Huppert, Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Cambridge said: "This school has become the victim of an unfair funding system and the county council must look at this problem as a matter of urgency.

"St Luke's cannot afford to lose this money from its budget and Cambridge cannot afford to lose good teachers."

Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Belinda Brooks-Gordon said: "It is such a sad irony that this school fills a special place in the city and yet it is being penalised for that very reason."

Lib Dem education spokesman, Peter Downes added: "Cambridge is facing a crisis in finding enough school places next year for primary school youngsters and here we have a successful school losing a teacher and funding.

"This cannot be allowed to happen. There must be a radical rethink here."

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