I’ve blogged before about the cuts facing Brighton schools (see here and here) but they face such a crisis that I welcome any opportunity to keep these issues on the political agenda. Brighton & Hove schools are facing cuts of £193,425 per school, a shocking £487 per pupil, and at least one school in the city has had to consider cutting staff or even school hours. The colourful banners on display at the Level made it clear that local schools think this is unacceptable, and I agree.
The Government’s response to the growing and noisy community-led campaign against the cuts has been to pledge an extra £4bn. However, this is more like a £1bn real terms increase once inflation is stripped out, and actually represents a 3% per pupil funding cut between this year and 2021/22 once rising pupil numbers are taken into account. Tory funding plans for our schools will leave teachers even more stressed and stretched, and will damage our children's education.
Our schools must be fully funded, and the Green Party would invest £7bn by 2020, an increase that could be paid for through a fairer tax system.
Today I also signed up to the five priorities campaign led by the school leaders' trade union NAHT. As well as a call to fund education fully and fairly, this calls for a national strategy for teacher recruitment and retention, fair methods to hold schools to account, valuing of a broad range of subjects in the school day and ensuring that schools are supported by health and social care services.
Parent-teacher organisations are already fundraising to pay for essential equipment like pens and glue sticks - the situation is getting desperate. I fully support parents and teachers fighting for fair funding for schools. The local campaign has already been incredibly effective and if re-elected I'll continue to work with Save Our Schools and NAHT to oppose attacks on education and to push for a world class education for every child instead.