Next step on the proposals to close or merge six schools in Hackney
Last night, the Council’s Cabinet decided to proceed to the next step in the proposed closures and mergers of a number of schools in Hackney as a result of the significant decrease in their pupil numbers.
The Cabinet report presented in the meeting advised that the Council should publish statutory proposals to close two schools and merge four others into two.
The proposals, announced in March this year, are in response to an ongoing decline in the number of school-aged children in Hackney. This reduction means 21% of reception places were unfilled in 2022-2023.
Schools are financed based on the number of pupils they have. The significant decline in pupil numbers has caused some schools to face serious financial and sustainability pressures. In 2022-2023 alone, the 58 primary schools in Hackney were missing more than £30m in funding compared to if classrooms were full.
Once the statutory notices are published, there is a 28-day representation period during which any person may object to or make comments on the proposals.
As a former school teacher myself I know how important our schools are in the lives of our local communities. They are not just a place for children to receive an education, but also hubs that bring people together.
The financial pressures faced by our schools reflect a London-wide problem. Lower birth rates, the cap on housing benefits, families leaving the capital as a result of the housing crisis, Brexit and the pandemic have led to changes in population that are beyond our control. Unfortunately, the fact that 95% of our primary schools are good or outstanding has not been able to protect them from the reduced demand for school places.
This is no fault of the Council or our schools. The Council, working with school leaders, has done everything possible to reduce the impact of the falling rolls. As part of our wider commitment to working towards long lasting solutions, we have also asked the Government for more support in funding schools with falling rolls, and greater powers to manage places in free schools and academies.
Following what the data tells us means that now we have to consider incredibly difficult decisions. But this is the only way to ensure that we can minimise the long term negative impact on Hackney education and more widely on the Council’s budget, at a time of extreme financial pressure.
We are committed to securing the future of the Hackney family of schools, and we will continue to do everything we can to support them in offering high quality, sustainable education for all our children.