Calling all parents! Are you worried about what is happening to school funding but unsure what you can do about it? Join our national parent-led campaign to ask for Fair Funding for All Schools
I became aware that something wasn’t right with the funding of our schools when I visited our local secondary school last Autumn. I heard from a passionate and engaging head teacher, who clearly loved his school and his job, but who then went on to say that class sizes would be increasing next year because money was so tight.
I thought that was odd. I thought that spending on education was protected. The government says it is spending more money than ever before on our schools, so why was this head teacher – who seemed so knowledgeable and professional – telling me that money was tight? That money was so tight that he had no alternative other than to increase class sizes?
I went away, did some research of my own – began speaking to friends across England – and quickly realised how unware I had been of the financial difficulties facing our schools.
All schools in England are facing the biggest real terms cuts in a generation. The government says it is spending more money than ever before but this is an incomplete sentence. Staff and running costs are higher than ever before – because of changes that the government itself has introduced. For example, increases to pension/NI arrangements, wholesale changes to curriculum which have required schools to buy new course materials with no funding being made available to do so. And to complete the picture, pupil numbers are rising.
This combination of increased unfunded costs and rising pupil numbers means that funding per pupil is going down over the lifetime of this Parliament – to the tune of £3 billion. In the Conservative manifesto, the government promised to protect per pupil funding. But they have broken that promise and these are the largest cuts to our schools that we have seen for 30 years.
In this context, the government is introducing a new national funding formula – which we support, in principle. But the government has not provided any funds to deliver it. Instead, they propose to redistribute a shrinking pot of money. This will do no-one any favours because even those gaining under the formula are still suffering from the underlying cuts to all of our schools.
The government says it is only the ‘losers’ complaining – but this is not true, since parents from all areas are coming together under our national campaign. Why? Because when the underlying cuts are taken into account, over 90% of schools in England will see their funding reduced over the next four years. The government is in denial that these underlying cuts are happening.
But this funding crisis is causing head teachers – like the one I heard from – to increase class sizes, to lose teaching and support staff, to offer fewer subject choices, fewer resources and out of school activities and less support for our children and young people. The government says £3 billion can be taken out of our schools by them becoming more efficient. But, as parents, we can see what it really means: our children will be getting less from their educational experience.
No parent is prepared to accept this – nobody voted for money to be taken out of our schools – so we have started a parent-led campaign, Fair Funding for All Schools, to force the government to put more money into our schools. Our future economy – and the success of our country – depends on it.
We are creating networks of parents across England who believe in the value of education and are prepared to fight for it. We want to come together into a national parent voice to be heard and to force the government to rethink. We are making it easy for parents to have their voice heard. So, what can you do?
- Sign our petition at www.change.org/fairfundingforallschools – the more signatures, the more power we have with our lobbying work.
- Follow us on Twitter @fairfundschools or facebook.com/fairfundingforallschools
- Write to your MP and local paper –use our model letter on our website to make it easy for you to be able to do so. We need as many parents as possible to be lobbying their MPs asking for education to be a priority. All local newspapers need to know what is going on and to tell local communities about what is happening to school funding in their area.
- Talk to your friends, get them interested, spread the word. Have a meeting at your school, invite a speaker – we can help you. Download our guide on how to organise in your area – our website has all the campaign materials you need.
- Look out for our campaign actions – sign up via our website to hear about campaign activities and events, get parents involved, join in the fun.
by Joanna Yurky, Fair Funding for All Schools