Schools are ‘forced to beg parents for money to stay afloat’
Hundreds of parents, children and teachers protested in central London yesterday against cuts to school funding, as part of the campaign Fair Funding for All Schools.
One parent said schools were being forced to ask parents for money due to unacceptable cuts.
Jo Yurky, a mother of two and cofounder of the campaign, who lives in Muswell Hill, north London, said she was aware of schools that had asked parents if they would be willing to make monthly payments of £20 to £50, or a one-off payment of £250.
She said: “I’ve discovered that schools near me were asking parents for money on a direct debit basis.”
She said the money was going into a fund to “keep the school afloat”, adding: “Money was so tight that they couldn’t balance their books unless they asked parents to give a regular donation on a monthly basis.”
Yurky said it was voluntary, but that particular amounts were being suggested. She said she was aware of another school that had written to parents suggesting “a minimum amount could be £250” as a one-off payment. doing that. Our issue is: why is there a problem? This is not a sustainable way to fund our schools. There is clearly a financial problem in our schools. And this is not a long-term solution to that.”
She had been shocked into action on hearing, during an open day visit, that her local secondary school was increasing class sizes because of funding constraints. She said the head teacher had said class sizes would be going up “because money’s tight”.
Yurky said: “Parents are deeply unhappy about the government’s failure to adequately address the funding crisis facing our schools. Whilst the government is busy saying nothing, damaging cuts are being made to our children’s education. This is unacceptable. We will continue to apply pressure to force the government to provide an urgent remedy.
“We want increased investment in our schools so that our young people have the skills and knowledge they need and so that our future economy can reach its full potential.”
A banner in Parliament Square in central London, where the crowd gathered, carried the hashtag #schoolsjustwannahavefunds. It also included a message to the education secretary, Justine Greening: “Our schools are facing a financial crisis. Please act now to ensure that our schools have the funding they need to continue providing high quality education for our children and young people.”
Children held banners with messages such as: “Up with schools, down with cuts,” and: “(Theresa) May I have a future?”
The Fair Funding for All Schools campaign is calling on the government to immediately reverse cuts made to school budgets since 2015 and to protect perpupil funding in real terms over the lifetime of this parliament.
It also calls on the government to provide the additional funding needed to implement a school funding formula that increases funding for schools in comparatively poorly funded areas of England without cutting funding per pupil for schools in any other part of the country, so that no school loses out.
The campaign said analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies showed that under government spending plans, including the additional £4bn announced in the Conservative election manifesto, spending per pupil was set to decline by a further 3% from 2017 to 2022, making a total 7% reduction since 2015.
Alex Kenny, 57, who teaches English at a secondary school in east London, said the school he works in has made decisions to cut back on school trips, adding that other schools were cutting back on people coming in to teach art, drama and PE. “So there are all kinds of things that enrich the lives of young people that schools are now stopping,” he said.
He said he knew of one children’s writer who would have visited 150 schools a year, but it is now down to 30 or 40 schools.