Cash shortfall ‘could lead to an educational timebomb’

Demolition work at Martindale Primary School in Hemel Hempstead, October 2015. The school has stood empty since its closure in July 2008.
Demolition work at Martindale Primary School in Hemel Hempstead, October 2015. The school has stood empty since its closure in July 2008.
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Hertfordshire could be facing an educational timebomb, it was warned this week.

The message comes as senior county education officers revealed a predicted funding shortfall of nearly £29million for next year, which could rise to nearly £60million by 2020.

Senior Liberal Democrats have warned the coming years will see cuts in teachers and teaching assistants, as well as sixth form provision, as schools struggle to keep their heads above water.

The party has also expressed worry over the demolition of schools such as Martindale Primary School in Hemel Hempstead, pictured above, in favour of housing development.

Following the announcement, chair of the Hertfordshire Schools Forum Alan Gray wrote a letter to government education minister Sam Gyimah expressing ‘deep concern’ about the shortfall.

The Lib Dems asked council leader Robert Gordon to support Mr Gray by writing his own letter, but all 46 Tory councillors voted against the request.

Lib Dem county councillor Paul Zukowskyj said: “All we wanted was a letter of concern. But no. Apparently the Tories aren’t worried about a £60million cut to our schools.

“When schools are writing to parents asking for donations so they can keep teachers from redundancy, to refuse to even express public concern shows a level of heartless I find difficult to believe.”

David Williams, Herts County Council’s cabinet member for education, responded with: “Our focus is to ensure there are the tools and measures in place to enable schools to manage cost pressures, teacher recruitment and retention.”

For the full story, pick up a copy of this week’s Gazette, out today (Wednesday, October 28).