London Parents Stressed by Slow Education Funding

Education is a high stress pursuit in Britain – especially for the parents. The latest cause for concern is the anticipated shortage of secondary school places because the government is slow to announce funding for the initiative to add more classroom space to overcrowded London schools.

London Councils, the organization that represents more than 30 of the city’s local authorities, is claiming that the delay is causing anxiety among families who are afraid that no spot in a school will be found for their children. Unless the government takes action now, the number of students who will not get a slot in their first-choice school is expected to be in the thousands. London already has a 90,000 seat deficit in its secondary schools.

The Government should have told each local authority last December how much “basic-need funding” money they would be receiving so they could decide how many new classrooms to build and budget accordingly.

But the Government has still not made the announcement, meaning there is not enough time to complete building work in time for September 2014. Peter John, the executive member for children and young people with London Councils, said: “The Government needs to reassure worried parents by announcing how much money is available — and so allowing boroughs to get on with building much-needed classrooms.”

The shortage is the result of fewer families moving out of London as well as the growing birth rate. The economy has also played a role as an increasing number of parents now operate on a less sure financial footing and therefore must pull their kids out of private schools.

A government spokesman has already promised that the number will be announced tomorrow – the same day as the school placements are made public – and blamed the delay both on the efforts to double-check data submitted by the councils and the restrictions placed on the actions of government officials by yesterday’s Eastleigh by-election.

This is only the latest wringer that British parents have been put through courtesy of the country’s education system. Last week, a report by The Manifesto Club, a campaigner against excessive government regulation, took schools to task for imposing onerous background check requirements on parents who wish to volunteer in their children’s schools.

Parents who wish to volunteer in their children’s schools are increasingly vetted prior to being allowed to lend a hand, The Daily Telegraph reports from the UK. This year alone, more than 57,000 volunteers have already had to pass rigorous background checks. The number includes more than 11,000 parents with children enrolled in the school to which they wish to donate their time.