Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner and Croydon MP Sarah Jones have warned that funding cuts to colleges and schools in Croydon risk jeopardising the good work being done in the borough to tackle knife crime.
The Labour MPs met staff and pupils at South Norwood Academy and at Croydon College, before taking part in a roundtable discussion on the role of education in tackling youth violence.
Both MPs warned that government cuts to education are harming efforts to tackle knife crime in the borough by reducing opportunities for young people to spend time in productive, safe environments.
Figures show that schools in Croydon suffered cuts of more than £44million between 2015 and 2019, equating to more than £300 per pupil.
Croydon also faces a funding crisis in further education, with the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) reporting that 16-18-year-olds in colleges and sixth forms seeing “the biggest squeeze of all stages of education”.
Police data suggests a reduction in the number of stabbings in Croydon, with a 7 per cent drop in the last year. Jones, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime, has worked closely with Croydon Council and the Mayor of London since her election in 2017 to increase funding for anti-knife crime projects.
However, during Rayner’s visit, she heard how government cuts to education funding meant Croydon College and other educational institutions could not offer young people enough services and activities to keep them off the streets – particularly in the evenings.
“Schools and colleges are spaces where our young people can develop, take part in activities and spend time with friends in a safe, positive environment,” Rayner said. “But years of cuts to education budgets undermine the hard work being done in boroughs like Croydon to tackle serious problems like knife crime.
“The next Labour government will end cuts to school budgets, giving our schools the resources they need and increasing per-pupil funding to a record high.”
Jones said, “Our schools are on the front line of the youth violence epidemic. Angela is right, if we continue to cut our young people’s education, it will completely undermine all the work which has gone into preventing them from carrying knives or getting into trouble.”
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