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Cornwall takes school funding fight to Parliament

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4:21pm 24th October 2017
(Updated 4:21pm 24th October 2017)

Parents and teachers from across Cornwall and the south-west lobby Parliament over school funding.

Campaigners say a government cash boost of more than a billion pounds over two years does not go far enough.

They claim schools have lost more than double that in real terms and want ministers to release more money.

Scroll down to check how much campaigners claim your local school is losing in real terms.

Walter Dudley from the National Education Union lives near Wadebridge and is worried about stuff like class sizes.

He said: "The three main things are going to be increased class sizes, there are going to be teacher losses - that's for certain - and there's bound to be cuts to extra-curricular activities and resources in general.

"I've heard rumours that teachers are actually spending their own money to fulfill resources, especially in primary schools.

"As I already said, there are going to be bigger class sizes. The government, a few years ago, tried to keep class sizes to less than 30; that's gone out of the window I'm afraid. There are many infant and junior classes in Cornwall with more than 30 pupils".

Over a hundred campaigners from the south-west will be attending the 'School Cuts Mass Lobby of Parliament' on Tuesday.

They will bring the message to MPs that schools are seriously underfunded, which is having a negative impact on children and young people's education.

The majority of constituencies (400) in England and Wales will be represented. Many more who cannot attend on the day will be lobbying MPs in their constituencies.

Reps say they will be asking MPs to join them in demanding that the Chancellor releases more funds for our schools to ensure every child and young person gets the education they deserve.

The NUT in the south-west says: "The £1.3bn funding over two years for schools, recently announced, is to be welcomed and was secured to a large degree thanks to the concerted campaign by parents, school staff, heads and teachers.

"It falls far short, however, of the amount needed to reverse the £2.8bn real terms cuts that schools have suffered every year since the 2015 General Election, and will not protect against the further impact of inflation and other cost increases".

The website, school cuts.org, has an online calculator to work out how much local schools will lose.

Lobbyists will gather at the Emmanuel Centre from 9:30am* to hear rally speeches, before proceeding to the House of Commons to meet with their MP.

Geoff Barton, General Secretary, Association of School and College Leaders, said: "We welcome the Education Secretary's commitment to a new formula to address the postcode lottery in school funding. But slicing up the cake more evenly cannot disguise the fact that the cake is not big enough in the first place.

"The overall level of education funding is a long way short of what is needed. Schools have already had to make significant cuts to courses, support services and enrichment activities, and there will be further pain to follow without more investment.

"The situation in 16-19 education is even more critical with a level of funding which is woefully inadequate. The Chancellor must provide schools and colleges with the funding that they desperately need to provide the education that young people deserve".

Rehana Azam, National Secretary, GMB, said: "School staff are living in fear of the next round of job cuts or the next restructure, and pupils are suffering as a result. GMB is fighting to protect jobs in individual chains and schools but the education system desperately needs a national cash injection.

"£1.3bn just isn't enough and no new money has been put into the education budget. It's time for Theresa May to recognise the valuable work school support staff do every day and cough up and give schools the proper funding they so desperately need".

Paul Whiteman, General Secretary, National Association of Head Teachers, said: "School budgets are at breaking point. They need at least an extra £2bn per year to avoid having to cut staff, cut classes, or limit what they teach.

"The autumn budget is the last chance for money to make it to schools this year. Unless the Chancellor finds more money to protect education, we will be perilously close to the end of the line for high-standards".

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary, National Education Union, said: "This lobby is another indication that the Government cannot ignore the message they received loud and clear in the General Election that our schools are on their knees financially and the public do not accept this should be the case.

"Increasingly, as a joint NEU/TES survey showed, teachers are now paying for materials out of their own pockets to try and plug the gaps. This, however, is a crisis that goes far beyond a quick fix.

"The Chancellor needs to address this in his Budget by giving schools the money needed to ensure our children and young people get the education in the 21st century they both deserve and need".

Jon Richards, Head of Education, UNISON, said: "Education budgets have been cut to the bone in recent years, and school support staff have suffered huge job losses.

"If the Government thinks it can make further cuts to staff and services with no impact on pupils, then it's living in a fantasy world.

"The only thing that's going to save schools, and ensure pupils get the decent, well-resourced education they need, is more money. The Chancellor needs to stop snipping away at children's education, and properly invest in their future".

Gail Cartmail, Assistant General Secretary of Unite, said: "There's a deafening chorus of concern from politicians, school staff, teachers and parents about the damaging impact this Conservative Government's cuts will have on schools.

"Every child deserves the best start in life, but it risks being taken away and their education and wellbeing harmed as school staff face ever deeper cuts.

"Theresa May and her Government need to rethink their cuts agenda which is harming key public services and invest in our schools so that our young people can realise their full potential".

4:21pm 24th October 2017

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