Hammersmith & FulhamNews

‘Outstanding’ school may have to reduce subjects due to slashed funding and increased costs

By Ben Lynch, Local Democracy Reporter

An ‘outstanding’ school may be forced to reduce the number of subjects taught to students and increase class sizes due to increased costs and decreased funding.

In a letter sent to parents and carers, Lady Margaret School’s Headteacher, Elisabeth Stevenson, warned of the financial difficulties facing the provision and wrote that without additional income it would be “impossible” to provide the current level of education.

Lady Margaret School is an all-girls secondary comprehensive academy in Parsons Green. It was rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted following the watchdog’s latest visit in November 2023, and was also named London Comprehensive School of the Year 2024, in The Sunday Times’ Parent Power Schools Guide.

In the letter distributed this year, Ms Stevenson wrote that while the school is grateful for donations received from parents and carers to-date, it needs to raise an additional £300,000 to balance the budget ‘to zero’ by August 2025.

Ms Stevenson added similar sums will be required the following year to offset the higher costs of staffing and running the site “due to the real terms drop in Governmental funding.”

In response to queries from parents on how much to donate, the letter notes a minimum of £60 per month per student is required to bridge the gap between Government funding and the school’s costs.

On the appeal for donations, Ms Stevenson said that the school understands that not all parents are able to donate, and never want parents to feel obligated.

Greg Hands, Conservative MP for the Chelsea and Fulham parliamentary seat and the party’s candidate on July 4, defended the Tory Government’s spending on schools.

He said: “School standards across the country are up from 68 per cent of schools being rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ under Labour to 90 per cent today and children in England named ‘Best in the West’ for reading.”

Mr Hands added his own daughter attended Lady Margaret, and that he has campaigned throughout his time in Parliament “on behalf of our local schools.”

The risk at the forthcoming election, he said, is that Labour’s planned removal of private schools’ VAT exemption “will choke places at our in-demand ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ state schools, leading to larger class sizes and lower school standards.”

Ben Coleman, Deputy Leader at Hammersmith and Fulham council and Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Chelsea and Fulham, said: “The Lady Margaret School letter highlights the damage done by years of Government underfunding to our brilliant state schools, threatening resources, class sizes and even the subjects they can offer.

“A Labour Government will give these schools the support they need to maintain high standards, starting by recruiting 6,500 new expert teachers in key, understaffed subjects.”

Pictured top: The Lady Margaret School is in Parsons Green (Picture: Google Street View)

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