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Isleworth school looks set to be the first in the country to go to close at lunch time on Fridays in “budget crisis”

Bridget Osborne

Isleworth school looks set to be the first in the country to go to close at lunch time on Fridays in “budget crisis” 30 January 2018

A local school looks set to become the first in England to go to a four and a half day week because of budget difficulties. Governors of St Mary’s RC Primary School have made the proposal because they’ve tried everything else – not filling posts which have become vacant, shorter lunch times, discontinuing whole class music lessons for violin and clarinet, asking parents to pay for ‘sundries’ such as pencils, glue sticks and so on, and this is the only way they can see to stay within budget and maintain educational standards.

Central government says more money is being paid in to education than ever before but head teacher Farley Marsh explained to me that the money they’ve been allocated by central government is not keeping pace with increases in pupil numbers, inflation, wages and the increase in National Insurance and Pension contributions.

“It is a desperate situation” he said. He hopes the Government “will look again at cuts in services that schools are having to make which are putting children’s education at risk”. Some other primary schools are asking parents to contribute money, while secondary schools are looking at options such as cutting ‘soft’ subjects like music and art.

Cllr Sam Hearn, leader of the Conservatives on Hounslow Council agrees that the school has been “doing all the sensible stuff to stay in budget” and adds that “other schools have had deeper cuts”.

St Mary’s is currently consulting its staff and the governors will make a final decision after half term but a letter to parents from the governors says: ‘we would ask that you actively start to investigate child care options for your child/ren on Friday afternoons (from 12:45pm) from September 2018’.

The school is planning to make provision to run a Friday afternoon club for 150 children, which parents would need to pay for, leaving the other 266 children to find somewhere else to be on a Friday afternoon.