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BRIT School can’t afford to keep lights on for drummers

The prestigious performing arts BRIT School “can’t afford to keep the lights on” before school so pupils – who cannot afford drum kits – can practise, its headteacher has said.

Adele

The performing and creative arts school for 14- to 19-year-olds in Croydon, south London, boasts the likes of Adele, Amy Winehouse and Rizzle Kicks among its alumni.

But, its principal Stuart Worden said he is not immune to “painful decisions” facing other heads because “there is no new money”.

Despite recent funding increases from government, pay rises for teachers and support staff – as well as rising costs and pressure to pay for support services such as food banks, counsellors and mental health – are squeezing school budgets.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates school funding next year will still be four per cent below 2010 levels in real-terms, when school-specific costs are accounted for.

On Wednesday, Worden said “a number of things [are] going to be lost.

‘We can’t afford electricity bill’

“I work at a school where people play drums. Some of those young people have not got drum kits at home, because they couldn’t afford them.

“So we provide drums for drummers, who haven’t got drum kits. They come into the school at seven in the morning and practise, because that’s the only chance before lessons.

“We can’t afford to keep the lights on at seven in the morning, because we can’t afford the electricity bill, so we’re now going ‘how is that going to happen?’”

He said “raising funds is what I do as a state head, which is unacceptable”.

A survey by the NAHT union, published this week, found 95 per cent of heads have had to fundraise to cover basic costs such as classroom materials and building repairs.

Worden added: “The fact that my school is sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada is a travesty. But … they were happy to support emerging artists in this country, unlike the government”.

During the panel, Luke Sibieta, research fellow at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, added his voice to calls for an NHS-style, long-term workforce plan for education. A 10-year plan would help create a “stable and long-term settlement for education”.

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