HALT EDUCATION CUTS! – Teachers, pupils, parents and unions demand

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Parents, pupils, teachers, school leaders, governors, local authority representatives and trade unions are lobbying MPs today to ‘Save our Schools’.

The lobbyists will be arriving outside the House of Commons from 11.30am and will be attending a Central Hall rally at 1.00pm to protest at the coalition government’s decision to scrap new school buildings for tens of thousands of children across the country.

The lobby is also timed to coincide with the Second Reading of the Academies Bill in the House of Commons.

It has been organised by teachers unions and is being joined by construction union UCATT and the biggest public sector union, Unison.

Teachers union NASUWT is hosting the 1.00pm rally.

Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary said at the weekend: ‘The lobby and rally has captured the public mood of deep concern about the coalition government’s programme of cuts.

‘These cuts will inflict major damage on education provision in schools already in a dire physical condition and the public is right to be angry.

‘The government’s unilateral decision to axe school building projects without consultation and any published criteria to make clear why some building programmes have been stopped, has caused a widespread revolt.

‘The Secretary of State’s publication of a series of inaccurate lists of schools affected has added insult to injury.

‘Run down, dilapidated buildings are not being replaced while schools in good repair are getting brand new buildings just because they are becoming academies.

‘There is a direct link between these decisions and the Academies Bill being rushed through Parliament, also on Monday, using procedures normally reserved for anti-terrorist laws.

‘These cuts are not necessary. They are being made not to save money but to fund the government’s ideological scheme for elitist academies.’

National Union of Teachers General Secretary Christine Blower called for the scrapping of Academies.

She added: ‘School buildings were woefully run down prior to Labour coming to power in 1997, and while much has been done to improve them, there is still a lot more to do.

‘Cutting the budget to rebuild schools, particularly primary schools, will be a huge blow to those that have been promised the sort of facilities you would expect in a modern school.

‘We are in real danger of returning to the crumbling inadequate schools that were a signature of the last Tory government.’

Construction workers’ union UCATT General Secretary Alan Ritchie said: ‘Not only is this a betrayal of pupils, parents and the school workforce, this will have a devastating impact on the construction industry, resulting in tens of thousands of construction workers being consigned to the dole.’

Unison National Officer for Education Christina Lewis, who will be joining members today, said: ‘The government is behaving recklessly by halting the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme without consulting schools or local authorities.

‘At the same time that they are making savage cuts, the government is focusing all its efforts on rushing through the new Academies Bill.’