Parent campaigners across the country held a ‘floss for funding’ Day of Action in protest at school funding cuts on Friday 19 October.
Catherine West MP for Hornsey and Wood Green joined parents and pupils to protest at St Aidan’s Primary School in Stroud Green.
Catherine said: “How can the Tories have the audacity to say austerity is at an end when schools, like so many of our vital public services, are struggling to cope with the loss of thousands of teachers, dilapidated school buildings, inadequate resources for special educational needs support, and increasingly relying on parent donations to pay for the essentials. With two weeks to go until Budget Day, the Chancellor needs to listen and act.”
Jointly organised by the independent parent-led Fair Funding for All Schools and Save Our Schools campaigns, the Day of Action saw campaigners organising floss dances in communities across the country. The dances were posted on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with messages targeted at the Chancellor Philip Hammond MP and Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State.
Parents aim to draw attention to the damaging impact that 8 per cent cuts to pupil funding since 2010 has been having on state schools across England and to call on the Chancellor to use the budget to provide a fair and sustainable funding settlement.
Campaigners in Haringey are alarmed that local schools will have seen a real terms spending cut of £10.6m from 2015 to 2020 – that is £346 less per pupil in Haringey schools.
Figures show that while there were 540 more pupils in state funded schools in Haringey between 2016 and 2017, there were 144 fewer teachers, 136 fewer teaching assistants and 24 fewer support and auxiliary staff. The pupil teacher ration had increased in one year from 16.7 to 18 pupils for every teacher.
Campaigners say that this reflects the national picture, where cuts have led to:
- increased class sizes – with record numbers of pupils now taught in classes of over 30
- reductions in teaching and support staff – figures show that there are 66,000 more kids in state schools in England this year compared to last, yet compared to last year there are 10,800 fewer staff in our school – including over 5,000 fewer teachers, over 2,700 fewer teaching assistants and over 2,000 fewer support staff.
- less support for children and young people, including those with special educational needs or English as an additional language
- a narrower curriculum
- cut-backs in essential resources and out-of-school-activities.
- Increasing numbers of schools appealing to parents for regular cash donations to make up the shortfall.
The national day of action follows recent protests by headteachers, with over 2,000 demonstrating outside Downing Street on 28 September and pupils and parents meeting MPs in Westminster on 10 October.
In a letter of 8 October 2018, the UK Statistics Authority admonished the Department for Education for its misleading use of school funding data stating that Ministers had “exaggerated” and “misrepresented” claims on changes to school funding in a way that does not “help to promote trust and confidence in official data, and indeed risks undermining them”
Jo Yurky from Fair Funding For All Schools said:
“Our schools are really up against it. Heads across the country and in our local area are saying they cannot make ends meet. As parents we see what takes place in our schools. We see the loss of staff. We get the emails asking for more donations. We are sick and tired of Ministers misleading us about school funding. They need to listen and they need to act. Starting with the budget this autumn. Enough is enough, our schools need more money and we owe it to our children to provide a future for them and for our country”.