By Sadie Robinson
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Parents take to the streets of London against school funding cuts

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Issue 2563
Part of the protest in London
Part of the protest in London (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Hundreds of parents, children, teachers and others marched in London against school cuts today, Sunday.

Up to 1,000 people took part in the carnival against cuts, organised by the Fair Funding For All Schools group.

Marchers demanded that Theresa May scrap her plan to slash £3 billion from schools every year by 2020.

Parent Michelle told Socialist Worker, “My son’s school is already under severe budget restraints.

“It’s heartless to say they should cut more. The school could have to lose more teaching assistants. There’s a drama therapist who will have to go too.

“It’s heartbreaking.”

Parent Columbine agreed. “It’s a really scary situation,” she told Socialist Worker. “They have been cutting for the last seven years with all the austerity.

“Schools are on their knees.”

Some of those marching had joined strikes against cuts, including Jill and Becky. They are teaching assistants in the Unison union in Derby.

People have to listen to us,” said Becky. “Kids’ education is too important to be messed around with.”

Jill said attacks on pay had forced some experienced school workers out of the profession. “It’s damaging education,” she said.

“We’ve had a 25 percent pay cut. There are people having to sell their homes and downsize just to make ends meet.

“We shouldn’t have to do that. And we know the money’s there – they’ve just given £1 billion to the DUP.”

Other marchers also spoke of the stress of working in schools and the impact of cuts on children.

Teacher Sue told Socialist Worker, “I work in an inner London school and we could lose up to 21 teachers by 2021.

“I want to protect funding so that children get the best chance in life. They’re our future.”

Sue’s partner John described how she leaves for work at 6.30 in the morning and then has to work when she gets home too.

Sue said high workloads, which will get worse if the cuts go through, are driving teachers to leave. “I don’t blame them,” she said.

“You have to suspend your own life to be a teacher.”

The protest was backed by the NUT, ATL, NAHT and Unison unions. Marchers chanted, “Hey, hey Theresa May – how many schools have you cut today?” as it made its way to Parliament Square from Whitehall Gardens.

The Department for Education (DfE) has yet to respond to a public consultation on the cuts. This week the DfE told Socialist Worker that it “will be responding to the consultation in due course”.

Anger and action against the cuts has put huge pressure on May. She is weak and can be forced back.

As Columbine said, “We made the cuts a big issue in the general election. We need to keep it as a big issue until the autumn budget.

“This is just the start.”

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