School governors unite in ‘deep concern’ over cuts and staffing

In a letter to the Guardian, governors from five leading state secondary schools that are among the most sought-after in the country say they are struggling to fill posts, particularly in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem), despite their popularity and academic success.

They say funding pressures have forced them to make cuts. “We are eliminating vital aspects of a rounded education to protect the teaching budget, cutting mentoring for vulnerable teenagers because we can’t pay staff for extra duties outside the classroom,” they write.

Our schools are still just managing to deliver outstanding educational results for our young people, but this will not be the case much longer,” the letter says. “The government must stop ducking its responsibilities and must provide the funding that we so desperately need.”

The letter was sent by the chair of governors at Camden school for girls, Lady Margaret school and the Grey Coat Hospital, which are among the most desirable and successful state schools in London, attracting high-achieving pupils, many from wealthy backgrounds. The other signatories are from Parmiter’s school and Watford grammar school for girls, both top-performing secondaries in Hertfordshire.

On teacher recruitment and retention, the governors’ letter states: “There is a staffing crisis in our schools and we need the government’s help in resolving it. We are united in our deep concern over the threat to our ability to continue to deliver an excellent state education.”

Ten years ago, the letter says, all five schools would have been inundated with applications for teaching posts, receiving more than they could handle. “Now we struggle to fill vacancies, especially in Stem subjects,” it states.

Elizabeth Kitcatt, headteacher of Camden school for girls, whose alumni include Emma Thompson and Sarah Brown, said: “If we are struggling – and we would expect to be quite an attractive school for teachers to come and work in – what must it be like in schools that are struggling more than we are?”