Now Barwell refuses to answer questions on Croydon schools

Education correspondent GENE BRODIE reports on the questions on the borough’s schools which Croydon Central’s Tory candidate refuses to answer

Gavin Barwell is happy to take questions from school children, but he’s avoided facing their parents and teachers over Tory cuts

Tory Gavin Barwell is now so scared of facing Croydon’s teachers, he not only doesn’t show up for a hustings event that his own office set the date for, but he’s now also refused to answer questions from the group which represents the biggest number of teachers working in schools across the borough.

State schools in Croydon are facing swingeing cuts under Tory proposals which could see the borough’s state schools losing more than 500 teacher posts in the next two years. Almost £20million is to be taken out of Croydon state schools’ budgets by 2019 under Tory plans.

One school in Barwell’s constituency, Oasis Shirley Park, is facing the prospect under the Tories of having to lose 12 teaching posts. A typical primary school, such as Oval Primary, could have £141,000 less per year to spend by 2022 under a Tory government.

The Tories have tried to hide this latest round of cuts by stating, like a stuck record, that they are increasing funding to schools. “Funding to schools is at record levels,” the unelected Prime Minister, Theresa Mayhem has parroted.

But such a claim does not stand up to the scrutiny of a fact check.

Barwell and his Conservative colleagues know that their education budget changes take no account of inflation or the rapid increase in pupil numbers which head teachers are having to cope with.

According to the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies, “The Conservatives have committed to ‘increase the overall schools budget by £4billion by 2022’. Once you strip out inflation, this equates to a real-terms increase in the schools budget of around £1billion compared with the level in 2017–2018. Taking account of forecast growth in pupil numbers this equates to a real-terms cut in spending per pupil of 2.8 per cent between 2017–2018 and 2021–2022.

“Adding this to past cuts makes for a total real-terms cut to per-pupil spending of around 7 per cent over the six years between 2015–2016 and 2021–2022.”

Private school-educated Barwell has been the Conservative MP for Croydon Central since 2010. Until 2015, he maintained various positions with the Whitgift Foundation, who run three large independent schools in the borough, including Trinity, the £15,000-per-year boys’ school where Barwell was a long-time chair of governors.

In the past, Barwell has attended election debate events organised by the Croydon branch of the National Union of Teachers, the NUT, including before the last General Election in 2015.

But despite arranging a date last month which was specifically requested by Barwell’s erstwhile parliamentary staff, Barwell pulled out of the Question Time event with his Labour rival, Sarah Jones.

When the NUT later had to cancel the event because of considerations following the Manchester bombing, the organisers opted instead to send a brief questionnaire to the two leading candidates with five key questions. By the weekend, while Jones had responded with her answers, Barwell had not bothered sending Croydon’s teachers even the courtesy of an acknowledgement.

These are the five questions on Croydon’s children’s education that Gavin Barwell refuses to answer:

  1. Will you pledge not to cut real terms school funding?

  2. Do you think Croydon should have grammar schools?

  3. What will you do to address the issue of so many teachers leaving the profession?

  4. Croydon schools are engaged in establishing a cohesive community in the borough. How can Government support this work?, and

  5. How would you sort out the mess of primary assessment?

We’ll leave Inside Croydon‘s loyal reader to work out whether Barwell is simply rude, arrogant, or actually has no answers which he’d be happy to put out there for real scrutiny by parents, teachers and school pupils.

In 2015, Barwell won the Croydon Central seat by 165. The General Election is this Thursday, June 8.

To check out how your local schools are affected by Barwell and the Tories’ education “funding formula”, click here.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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