Socialist Worker

Schools revolt and Scotland standoff add to Tories’ woes

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2546

On a protest over school funding cuts last Saturday in Sandbach, Cheshire

On a protest over school funding cuts last Saturday in Sandbach, Cheshire (Pic: Victoria Andersson)


The Tories are on the rocks over their attacks on schools. Their so-called Fair Funding Formula will see 98 percent of schools in England suffer real terms cuts.

A public consultation on the plan was due to end on Wednesday. Senior Tories have vowed to vote against it if it is put unchanged to parliament.

The crisis comes days after the Tories were forced to retreat on raising national insurance contributions.

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for a second independence referendum is another headache for May.

The government is under such pressure that some senior Tories want a snap general election.

The attacks on education have sparked protests and meetings across England as parents fight back.

Hundreds marched in Sandbach, Cheshire, last Saturday against the funding formula. Parent Victoria helped set up a campaign against the cuts there.

She told Socialist Worker, “I would say there were 1,500 people there at least, including loads of children. And we’re already preparing for our next protest.

“People think it’s an affluent area but it’s not. We don’t all send our children to private school.”

Adam Unwin is co-author of Rethinking Education, which looks at how neoliberalism has transformed education across the globe.

He told Socialist Worker the funding formula “hits some areas more than others”.

Skewed

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He said, “High costs of education in London—such as staffing, transport and buildings—are downplayed. And extra staffing required for children with special educational needs or who have English as an additional language will be cut. Cuts are skewed to hit the poorest.”

Theresa May also wants new selective grammar schools—generating yet more opposition.

Madeleine Holt is a parent at Yerbury primary school in London and co-founder of the Rescue Our Schools group.

She told Socialist Worker, “It feels like there is an all-out assault on schools and education, with the grammar school announcement the final kick in the teeth.

“Every parent I know is incensed about the cuts.”

The government has thrown billions at privately-run free schools while refusing to fund essential repairs in state-run schools.

A Public Accounts Committee heard evidence about the state of schools earlier this month.

Former head teacher Phil Keay described students at a Sunderland school having to be “hosed down” after asbestos leaks.

But the Tories are determined to push privatisation.

A victory over education cuts would deepen the Tories’ crisis—and boost everyone who wants to resist them.


Will they rush to a snap election?

Senior Tories including party chair Patrick McLoughlin, chief whip Gavin Williamson and the prime minister’s private secretary George Hollingbery have discussed holding a snap election in May.

Prospective Tory MPs have been asked to confirm they will apply to stand in constituencies before 24 March.

Tories fear that Theresa May could suffer further damaging defeats over her Brexit bill. She has twice been defeated on the bill in the House of Lords, although these were later reversed.

They also hope an early election could head off the revolt over grammar schools and school funding.

It’s a sign that a significant number of Tories feel that their party’s woes are going to get worse, not better.


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