Parents, children, teachers and campaigners gathered in central London for a mass lobby of parliament on Tuesday. Tory funding cuts will see 88 percent of schools lose money in real terms.
Students Lucy, Sophie and Jess told Socialist Worker about the impact that cuts have already had in Haringey, north London.
“Our teachers are under a lot of stress,” said Lucy. “They sometimes break down in lessons and we don’t have the materials we need.
Sophie said, “It’s really important to have things like art and music, otherwise some students will just switch off.
“But for my GCSE music there was just one teacher for the whole school.”
Jess agreed. “I spoke to one of my old teachers who said they aren’t teaching art in years 7, 8 and 9 anymore,” she said. “That means no one will take it at GCSE.”
Storm, a parent, described how cuts are wrecking education. “Children are being taught by teachers who aren’t specialists in the subjects,” she said.
And Natasha from south London said cuts have affected her two children, who have extra needs. “They have a disorder that means they develop tumours,” she told Socialist Worker.
“Tumours in the shoulder means they can’t grip a pencil. There was a really good TA but we’ve just lost the TA for this class.
Teachers said conditions in schools have become much worse. NEU union member Ekaterina from Cheltenham told Socialist Worker, “The budget is very tight. It has direct implications on resources and our pay.”
Shrewsbury teacher Charles added, “I’ve been working in state education for 35 years and it’s the worst it’s ever been.
“They should raise taxes to fund education—the rich are getting richer. But action by school workers—and more campaigning by parents—can defend school funding.
Ekaterina was optimistic that “if everybody’s involved and active, they will have to listen to us”.
NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney told the rally, “This campaign isn’t going away.”
“There is a set of big local elections in May next year. We want to ask everyone who stands to be a councillor where they stand on school cuts.”
Labour shadow education secretary Angela Rayner told the rally, “We’ve had enough of tinkering round the edges.” She said that a Labour government would ensure anyone can return to education at any time “free at the point of need”.
It’s good that Labour is making promises to better fund education. But we can’t simply wait for a Labour government to solve the education crisis.
Children are losing out now—and it will take sustained action from ordinary people to turn that around.