You can win this battle, parents are told

Published on: 02 May 2017

PARENTS  will this month step up their campaign for more money for South Gloucestershire schools after what they describe as a phenomenal start.

The organisers of Fair Funding for all Schools - South Glos were overwhelmed when 300 people turned up for their meeting at the Holiday Inn on April 6.

And they were encouraged by the message from Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, who said he believed they could win their battle.

The meeting heard from a number of speakers, including Angela Athay-Hunt, who read out anonymous quotes from school staff including one that said: “This has to be led by parents. ‘They’ won’t listen to teachers.”

Mr Courtney said the power of the campaign was that it could be supported by parents across the country, no matter which political party they voted for or which way they cast their ballot in the referendum.

 No parent had voted for the increased class sizes, reduced opportunities for dance, drama and PE and cuts in individual support that would come about if, as expected, schools across England had £3bn less a year to spend. “If you think education’s expensive, try ignorance,” he said.

Sixth former George Angus said it was heart-breaking that children just starting out in education would get a less good deal than those who were about to leave school. Schools were reducing their curriculum offer at a time when they should be increasing it to meet 21st century needs, he said.

George also voiced concerns about cuts to special educational needs funding and the impact on young people’s mental health.

Speakers from the panel and the floor spoke of the workload pressures that were driving teachers out of their jobs, prompting a recruitment and retention crisis. A university student said teaching was becoming a taboo profession, with young people reluctant to go into training because of the stress levels.

Parents, governors, teachers and students voiced their concerns and vowed to take further action to highlight the crisis. 

Nigel Varley, from the National Union of Teachers, urged people to demand that the management of their local schools issued impact assessments on the cuts.

Parent Rish Shellard, who has children at schools in Bromley Heath and Winterbourne, who started the local campaign, said protesters should “shout loud” and spread the word.

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