A huge march through Lancaster last Saturday showed the fury at a Tory schools funding cuts plan—and potential to build resistance to it.
Some 2,000 people joined the Lancaster protest against the Tories’ so-called fair funding formula, which will snatch £3 billion from schools every year by 2020.
Teachers, parents and school children all marched together, with children carrying placards they had made themselves at the start of the march.
Audrey Glover, a teacher and NUT union member in Lancaster, said it was the biggest demonstration the city had seen in years.
“We knew the march was going to be huge—but it was so much bigger than expected,” she told Socialist Worker.
“We’d been leafleting in the town centre for a month in the run up to the march—teachers and parents together with stalls and balloons.
“Parents had also been taking leaflets to other schools, so it was a real grassroots campaign”.
Four more protests against education funding cuts were set to take place this weekend—in Bristol, Leamington, Manchester and Sheffield. And in London protesters plan to gather at Old Palace Yard on Thursday of this week.
Huw is involved in building the Bristol protest. “Our campaign is full of people who’ve never been involved in anything political before,” he told Socialist Worker.
“We had 20,000 leaflets for the demo and they’ve gone. I’ve never been in a campaign when so many people have wanted to be actively involved.”
In Manchester campaigners are encouraging each school to send a delegation to the protest. Parent Jazz helped to set up the campaign group in Bristol.
“Lots of people have offered to leaflet and be points of contact for their schools,” she told Socialist Worker. Jazz also explained what’s at stake. “The cuts are already having a huge impact,” she said.
“Music lessons have been cut. School trips have been cut. Activities have been cancelled. The school has had to fundraise to raise money for things they shouldn’t have to fundraise for.”
The Tories are on the rocks over their school cuts. There is widespread opposition from ordinary people, while several Tory MPs have threatened to vote against them.
But we shouldn’t settle for some fudge that still steals money from children. The money’s there for education.
As Victoria, a parent campaigning in Cheshire, put it, “It’s not fair. There’s lots of money being spent on things like Trident and HS2.”
Parents across England have set up campaigns and found that people flocked to them. And while it’s good that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has promised to put more money into schools if elected, activity by ordinary people is key.
If the Tories don’t back off, campaign groups and the unions should turn up the heat. National demonstrations and strikes by school workers can beat the Tories.