City Academy Hackney to slash school day by half an hour due to funding cuts

Students at City Academy Hackney receive thei GCSE results in 2014. Picture: Isabel Infantes

Students at City Academy Hackney receive thei GCSE results in 2014. Picture: Isabel Infantes - Credit: Archant

One of the top five schools in the country for pupil progress is shortening its days because of funding cuts.

Homerton’s City Academy Hackney sent a letter to parents explaining the decision to cut half-an-hour off the school day, blaming “recent cash freezes and ongoing financial pressures”.

The radical move is expected to save money on teacher’s wages, but will see kids lose 95 hours of learning a year.

The letter from principal Mark Malcolm reads: “The governing body has reluctantly decided the best way to maintain our high standards and the quality of education for students, while making the necessary economies in the coming year, is to cut the length of each lesson by five minutes, to 55 minutes for a single period.

“This decision will have no impact on school opening times, the school will continue to remain open for students between 7.30 and 6.30.”

When contacted by the Gazette early on Tuesday, Hackney NUT spokesman Jamie Duff said he did not know about the move – but sent a statement criticising national cuts.

According to calculations by the NUT and the Institute for Fiscal Studies, City Academy Hackney stands to lose £951 per pupil by 2022 under current plans to redistribute the government’s education funding – the equivalent of 19 teachers.

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It is not immediately clear whether cutting the school day by half an hour will result in lower wages for teachers or will enable savings elsewhere.

Mr Duff told the Gazette: “Schools are already facing hidden budget pressures.

“Increases in pay, pension and National Insurance have been devolved down to individual schools without additional funding.

“The government is proposing a new funding formula that will see nearly all schools lose out, with Hackney schools facing some of the biggest cuts in the country.

“The NUT believes that all children and young people deserve a properly funded education system. We demand the government invests in the future of all our children.”

Mr Malcolm vowed in his letter: “We will continue to deliver outstanding teaching and learning, to ensure students make the exceptional progress the Academy prides itself on.

“Students will still be receiving over 30 hours per week of outstanding teaching time and additional studies will still take place on Wednesday and Thursday.”

Stellar GCSE results last summer saw City Academy Hackney ranked fifth out of thousands of secondary schools for the rate of pupil progress in the UK. It also boasted the third best progress figure out of any school in London, achieving an 11 per cent increase in students with A* to C grades in English and maths to boot.

Then-principal Mark Emmerson said the results were testament to the hard work of the staff and students: “Following on from our impressive first A-level results [in August], the continued excellent performance of students at GCSE is very pleasing.”

A spokeswoman for academy sponsors for the City of London Corporation, said: “We are fully committed to ensuring the school continues to provide first class education for its pupils.

“The core hours being taught at the academy remain in excess of the average school week and they are supplemented by a wide range of extra-curricular activities.

“We are working closely with the school and co-sponsors, KPMG, to ensure it continues with the highest standard of teaching with a rich and varied curriculum.”

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