Socialist Worker

Backlash builds against Tories' cuts to school budgets

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2547

Turkish and Kurdish parents in north London discuss how to resist school cuts

Turkish and Kurdish parents in north London discuss how to resist school cuts (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Over 100 people joined an angry meeting in Lancaster on Monday, opposing Tory cuts to school funding. The Tories’ so-called fair funding formula will see England’s schools losing £3 billion a year by 2020—if it goes ahead.

But resistance is growing. As Robert Kelsall from the NAHT head teachers’ union told the Lancaster meeting, “I have spoken to 3,000 governors and school leaders up and down the country who want to fight.

"Unless we do it, no one is going to do it for us.” Everywhere parents are setting up anti-cuts groups.

Three Labour councillors spoke at a meeting in Sheffield on Monday. Jackie Drayton said the Tories were using the cuts to push academies. Parents discussed plans for a protest in Sheffield as part of a city-wide campaign.

A meeting in Manchester last Saturday brought together 130 adults, mostly parents, and 50 children.

Curs are already hitting. People described how one school had seen every support worker made redundant. At another, support staff were given a choice of pay cuts or redundancy. A day of action in Greater Manchester on 29 April will see groups of schools marching to parks across the area.

Kurdish and Turkish parents also met last Saturday in north London, to discuss school cuts. It was organised by the Day-Mer community centre.

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Oktay Sahbaz who took part told Socialist Worker the cuts would have “immense consequences” including fewer teachers and limited support for vulnerable children.

“The consequences of these cuts must be known by all parents, including parents of migrant children,” he said. “They must be part of the struggle against these cuts.”

Support

There is potential for teachers and other school workers to strike to stop the cuts—and they could win widespread support.

A strike at Forest Hill School in Lewisham, south east London, against cuts has seen lots of parents join picket lines.

Hackney NUT union secretary Dave Davies was at a meeting of over 100 in Stoke Newington School in Hackney, east London, on Wednesday of last week.

He told Socialist Worker, “Speaker after speaker from the floor expressed their willingness to support teachers taking industrial action against cuts.”

More meetings are planned this week in Hackney, Bristol and Cricklewood, north London. And campaigners plan a rally in Chesterfield this Saturday, 1 April.

The stakes are high. On top of the billions schools will lose by 2020, an Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report last week revealed that more losses will follow.

It said nearly 1,000 schools could face cuts of more than 7 percent per pupil after 2020 if government protections on cuts end.

The IFS confirmed that money will be “diverted from schools with very high levels of deprivation”.

This is a nasty attack on working class children. But the scale of opposition, which includes even Tory MPs, means the government is under pressure to backtrack.

Strong campaigning—and industrial action by school workers—can make sure it doesn’t get away with a shoddy compromise.


Here's how to join the fight

People everywhere can get involved in the fight to defend schools.

Parents and carers can speak to others at the school gates and organise a meeting to discuss the cuts.

You can set up a Facebook group to publicise the campaign. Get involved in the Fair Funding For All Schools campaign.

Trade unionists in schools can call joint union meetings and connect with parents’ groups.

Calling local protests has proved effective with some seeing over 1,000 people take part. A national demonstration would increase the pressure on the government.

Teachers in Lewisham and Hackney are already striking to stop cuts and job losses. They showed it is possible to deliver strong strike votes and win backing from parents.

But the Tory cuts affect all schools in England—and demand an England-wide response. Unions must call industrial action to defend schools.

Strikes in schools would escalate the political crisis for the Tories.

Go to schoolcuts.org.uk to see how the funding formula will affect your area. To get involved in the campaign go to fairfundingforallschools.org

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