Socialist Worker

Activists call protests, ‘big assemblies’ and ‘question times’ in fight to stop school cuts

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2552

Students and parents have joined teachers on strike at Forest Hill School in Lewisham

Students and parents have joined teachers on strike at Forest Hill School in Lewisham (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The battle to stop Tory education cuts is growing.

Some five Saturday protests are set up across England in Bristol, Sheffield, Leamington, Lancaster and Newcastle before the general election.

In London, Lambeth and Wandsworth NUT branches have called protests on Thursday 18 May.

Teachers and parents in east London have called a “Big School Assembly” on 24 May. It will be a chance for people to come together and discuss how to build resistance to the cuts.

Other areas, including Sheffield and Brent in north west London, have set up Education Question Times where parliamentary candidates can be grilled on their education policies.

Several other branches, including Lewisham, Islington, Hackney and Richmond, backed the 18 May protest last week.

Parents and teachers rallied against cuts in Moss Side, Manchester, last Saturday.

The government’s fair funding formula will see schools in England losing £3 billion a year by 2020.

The Tories also want schools to slash another £3 billion by 2019-20.

Jeremy Corbyn told the NAHT head teachers’ conference that Labour would reverse that cut if elected.

But many schools are already making plans to cut costs. Selly Oak Trust School in Birmingham plans to slash two and a half hours’ teaching time from children each week.

Shorter

The school wrote to parents last week explaining that the school day will be 30 minutes shorter from September.

Parent Steve told Socialist Worker, “This is a special school for children with moderate educational needs. If anybody needs extra help, it’s children like my lad.

“They often skirt around cuts by saying they’re going to make efficiencies. But this will have a direct impact. Two and a half hours a week is not trivial.”

It’s not the only school planning drastic changes due to lack of funding.

Redland Green School in Bristol wrote to parents in March to warn that funding was at “a critical level”. The letter suggested that parents could set up a £10 a month direct debit to support the school.

Several schools in London have already seen strikes to stop cuts. They have shown that it is possible to win parents’ support and build broad-based campaigns.

A sustained campaign, including strikes by school workers on a bigger scale, has the power to stop the cuts. The money is there for schools.

As Steve said, the government should “stop dropping bombs on people in foreign countries and stop giving enormous tax breaks to rich people”.

“It strikes me that my kids, some of the most vulnerable people, are being punished while it’s tax breaks all round for the non doms,” he added.

“They see non-voting kids as a soft target.”


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