'Schools funding crisis is affecting every student'
PARENTS and teachers in the Downend area are being urged to share stories of the impact of the education funding squeeze.
A meeting in Lyde Green was told that independent studies show schools in England are facing a real-term budget reduction of eight per cent, meaning many are having have to lose staff, cut courses and drop valuable extra provision such as trips.
Special educational needs funding is in crisis in both Bristol and South Gloucestershire, which is affecting mainstream schools as they try to meet the cash shortfall and address children’s needs.
Yet many families have yet to realise that all school students are being hit by the lack of money, campaigners told the meeting, which was organised by Fair Funding for all Schools South Glos.
Nigel Varley, of the National Education Union, said it was compiling a report on the impact of the problems locally, especially in South Glos, which receives the lowest per-pupil funding in the country.
He said the FFfASSGlos leaflets handed out at school gates had been effective but more support was still needed.
“It has to come from the grassroots,” he said. “Contact your MP, target your local councillors, share your stories.”
Lee Everson, a history teacher and NEU volunteer, said 103 out of 106 schools in South Glos faced reduced funding, receiving an average of £295 a year per student less. He said that although more money was going into schools overall, this was because of rising pupil numbers. Meanwhile schools had to fund wage rises, rocketing utility bills, cutbacks in SEND funding and the apprenticeship levy.
“Your children deserve better,” he said.
Sam Richards, a student at Downend School, spoke about his concerns over lack of funding for resources and for provision for children with additional needs, such as his sister, who has dyslexia.
“Cuts will affect kids their whole lives. This is my future. I want to protect it, he said, to a round of applause.
Tara Northen said she had been campaigning with FFfASSGlos for two years and would be taking part with others in a national protest march on May 30 over SEN funding.
She said the School television series last autumn, featuring local schools, had highlighted many of the issues but pressure had to be kept up, especially on the local MPs.
The meeting was chaired by Emersons Green town councillor Matt Palmer and was attended by Lib Dem, Labour and Green councillors and activists, as well as teachers and parents.
FFfASSGlos has a petition: https://bit.ly/2YArJKf