Staff at Central Foundation Girls’ School have been told of a restructuring exercise which could lead to redundancies for both teaching and support staff. The reason being given (though staff have been told not to tell) is that the school’s budget is in trouble. One of the reasons for this is the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) project being in deficit due to the collapse of Ballast PLC in 2003 with £160 million debt. This and the coincidental decision by Abbey National to withdraw from the PFI market following poor results from its investment banking operations exacerbated the problems for the consortium that operated as a Special Purpose Vehicle called Tower Hamlets Schools Ltd.
So now members of the two biggest trade unions in the school, the National Union of Teachers and Unison (which represents non-teaching staff), have voted almost unanimously in recent meetings affirming that they are prepared to take strike action to defend their jobs and pay.
The cuts at Central Foundation Girls’ School are taking place against the back drop of public sector cuts which are having a devastating affect on local services in Tower Hamlets. There are 26 PFI schools in Tower Hamlets, all affected the same way and all being told that they have to contribute to the cost of the deficit out of the school’s budget.
Perhaps another contributing factor for the trustees of the school is their misadventure at the Lower School site in College Terrace where they were hoping to cash in on a 49 flat development with no element of affordable housing or section 106 contributions. Planning Permission was refused for this scheme by Tower Hamlets Council for…..
- No affordable Housing
- Low percentage of family homes
- Unacceptable design, bulk and scale in a conservation area.
- 21 of the 49 flats failed to meet the minimum space requirements
- insufficient child play space
According to the planning application
The re-use of this site is therefore inextricably linked to the provision of the new school facilities (at Harley Grove) providing substantial additional funding to the programme.
All this means staff at the school who have nothing to do with PFI or adventures into property development find their jobs and livelihood under threat.