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Readers' Letters

Gazette letters: Anniversary congratulation, schools funding and spring

PUBLISHED: 09:00 25 March 2017

Archant

Would it be possilbe to have this photo of my mum and dad put in your paper? writes Teresa Perry.

Their names are Doreen and Harry Weller. They live on the Frampton Park Estate in Hackney, and have lived in Hackney for most of their lives.

In the photo, they are celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary (60 years) and they are holding a card from the Queen, which she gives to couples who reach 60 years of marriage.

They celebrated their anniversary on March 16 with family and friends. They got married on March 16, 1947.

I would be very grateful if this could be possible, as it would be lovely for them.

Few institutions are as important to thriving, healthy communities and the future well-being of our society as state schools, writes Marija Milosavljevic, parent, north Hackney.

And yet they are about to be stretched beyond their breaking point.

The government claims to be increasing school budgets. But the National Audit Office (NAO) says when inflation and a whole range of increased responsibilities and costs imposed on state schools are taken into account, it all adds up to the biggest cuts in school spending power since the 1990s.

Based on data from the Department for Education and NAO, Hackney primary schools like Grazebrook, Sir Thomas Abney or Woodberry Down Community each stand to lose more than £300,000 per year, equivalent to seven to 12 teacher salaries.

Secondaries like Stoke Newington School and Skinners’ Academy will fare even worse, with between £1.2million and £1.4m less funding in real terms. This translates into 30 to 34 fewer teachers at each school.

I have heard one teacher say if that many of his colleagues phoned in sick on a single day, the school would have to impose emergency closure as it wouldn’t be able to sustain teaching.

While the overall school funding keeps shrinking, the government’s new plans for 2018 are set to take even more money away from half the schools in the country to give to the other half. That’s not fair or sustainable.

Unless the government provides additional funding to resource schools properly, a vast majority of our kids are most likely to be deprived of a sound education. This is at a time when young people, particularly in London, face ferocious competition for jobs, massive university debts, and exorbitant rents once they leave family homes.

As a result, social inequalities will deepen even further, increasing tensions and adding extra social cost that is avoidable. This is a dangerous false economy, and we should press the government to fund schools properly so all of them can excel.

Happy spring! writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

Winter is finally over: as of Monday we can celebrate the most exciting season of the year. Here are five things I’ll be looking forward to this spring:

Birdsong – the most incredible bit of spring in my opinion. The birds are back in song already and there will be more and more birdsong throughout the spring. Hackney Marshes is particularly good (skylarks and chiffchaffs already this year), but anywhere near an open green space or body of water and you’re likely to hear some of spring’s arrivals.

Baby animals at Hackney City Farm – nothing so cute as the balls of fluff you can see down at the farm. Perfect for taking your young relatives to.

Blossom – my goodness, it’s everywhere. I can barely walk down my street without having my face caressed by falling petals. The smell, the bees, the colours and the glamorous feeling of walking down petal-strewn pavements – blossom is a real spring highlight.

Wild Weekend Free Festival at Woodberry Down (April 29 and 30) – this is just an amazing event. Loads of workshops, activities and displays and an excuse to visit one of the borough’s best wildlife hotspots.

Spring colours at Islington Ecology Centre, Gillespie Park – as well as the blossom and amazing array of plants, Islington Ecology Centre plays host to loads of butterflies and dragonflies which will start to make an appearance over spring. Well worth a visit.

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