Hundreds of teachers, parents, school leaders and children travelled to Westminster on Tuesday 24 October to join our campaign for increased investment in education. MPs from a range of parties also joined us to demonstrate their support and share first-hand accounts of the school funding crisis in their constituencies. It was evident from the outset that these are challenging times for schools, with many reporting leaky ceilings, dog-eared textbooks and the perennial challenge of avoiding staff cutbacks.
We took to the Emmanuel Centre with one aim: to call for the Chancellor to invest in schools in this Autumn’s budget. The morning rally with fellow unions (ASCL, GMB, NEU, Unison and Unite) comprised of a range of speakers from the world of education.
Shadow Education Secretary Angela Raynor was evident in her message that funding must be addressed swiftly. “I’m pleased to be here today, but I’m not pleased that we have to do this again,” she stressed.
The rally also saw a personal account of the funding crisis from Louise Atkinson, a teacher from Cumbria, who said “Last July, we lost three teaching assistants - that’s 10 per cent of our workforce.”
Our general secretary Paul Whiteman challenged the government to be ‘champions of our children’ by investing an extra £2 billion a year to avoid school cuts.
Throughout the morning, teachers and parents sought meetings with their MPs to talk personally about funding in their schools and the impact on their children’s education.
In the afternoon’s rally, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell joined the fray and offered his support to address school funding. “We’ve got a few weeks to turn this situation around and let politicians know what’s at stake,” he said.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Vince Cable, added that vulnerable children, in particular, feel the impact of the school funding crisis. “Many schools anxious to integrate children with SEND are now being financially penalised for doing so,” he warned.
Head teacher Michelle Sheehy also provided a first-hand account of how the funding crisis was manifesting itself in her school and added that she was tired of the funding crisis being ignored by government. “Don’t tell me the cuts don’t exist; I live them every day,” she stressed.
We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who attended the lobby on Tuesday, and we will continue to campaign for investment in education. Share your experiences of how the funding crisis is affecting your school on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #TelltheChancellor.