Conservatives tackling historic Lib Dem failures on schools
Conservative led Kingston Council is looking to put right years of inadequate funding and disastrous school expansion policy by reforming Special Educational Needs and building more schools. The Lib Dem opposition are fighting against these policies but have no ideas to offer themselves.
In 2014 the Kingston Conservatives pledged for two new schools and to support local families, and we have delivered.
With a Conservative administration in Kingston, we have opened a new secondary school in North Kingston and a new primary school in Norbiton. We also recently approved a new Kingston Town Centre school that will open in 2018, and we have also supported a new application with the Government to open a new school in Surbiton whilst pledging our support to the establishment of a new Special School.
In addition we face the legacy of spending on Special Educational Needs (SEN) that is far oustripping any part of the Councils budget. The SEN budget had been rising steadily on a yearly basis since before Kingston Conservatives took control of the Council. Due to the failure of the previous Lib Dem administration education policies they failed to tackle the Special needs timebomb of growing numbers and growing costs.
At the time of their last budget in 2014 there was a deficit in Special Needs spending of £1.2m which they ignored and this has grown since then to the position of a projected £6.5m deficit in 2017/18.
Kingston Conservatives will implement a three point plan on SEND:
- Reform Special Needs transport to promote independence
- Focus resources on the most vulnerable children
- Open new in-Borough provision to bring more children closer to home and lower costs of both provision and transport
Cllr Kevin Davis, Leader of the Council said:
Our plan for solving the SEN crisis is in stark contrast to the local Lib Dems who have come up with no methods to tackle the problem other than to presumably just cut the budget for our most vulnerable children. Special Needs children need a reforming Conservative administration, not a cuts focused Lib Dem one.
For twelve years the Lib Dems completely failed to make plans for the future new schools or tackle the systemic problems surrounding the funding of Special Educational Needs. They damaged the education of our children by experimenting with bulge classes and failed to build enough new schools. Education in Kingston under the Lib Dems went backwards with children suffering.
Yet local Lib Dems still have not learnt from their mistakes. North Kingston activist and former Lib Dem education spokesperson, Sarah Olney, called for plans to build free schools to be ‘scrapped’, despite there being an ‘urgent need’ to build schools in Kingston. Whilst the leader of the Lib Dems, Cllr Liz Green was quoted as saying that the building of schools is ‘a failed vanity project’. In another blow to local families two Lib Dem councillors also opposed the building of a new school in Kingston town centre, without which local families would have to travel further to send their children to school although it was pushed through by Conservative members.
Cllr Richard Hudson, Portfolio holder for Children’s services said:
Kingston Conservatives are determined to ensure that the mistakes of the previous Lib Dem administrations are never repeated. We delivered on our promise to build two new schools and are continuing to work with schools to ensure that our children have access to the best possible education. Moreover, since we took the council in 2014, school standards have gone up, we have rescued Kingston children from the failing childrens care of the Lib Dems, more money has been invested, and there are many more school places for local children. We are now working with our schools to tackle the problems of SEN funding and ensure that every child gets the best start in life - something that was not the case in the dark days of Lib Dem education in 2013.
Families and children across the Borough deserve better than a Lib Dem party that just wants to turn back the clock and create another school places crisis. It has been made abundantly clear from senior Lib Dems that building schools isn’t a priority for them. Not only is this gambling with our children’s education, it’s irresponsible and shows a complete disregard for local families.
 Surrey Comet, North Kingston MP Sarah Olney: Scrap plans to build schools, 15th March 2017
 Council Meeting, Tuesday 14th July 2015