OVER one thousand head teachers across England and Wales yesterday held a mass protest over savage cuts to their schools’ budgets. Heads from Peterborough, Cumbria, Somerset, Suffolk, Hampshire and Brighton delivered a letter to Chancellor Hammond at 11, Downing Street calling for him to reverse the cuts.
The protest was organised by the ‘Worth Less’ campaign initiated by West Sussex head teacher Jules White who said those coming on the rally were ‘joined by a common desire, and in many cases desperation’ to see their schools fairly and adequately funded.
The leaders of both the National Association of Head Teachers and the Association of School and College Leaders took part in the protest. ASCL leader Geoff Barton said the gathering was unprecedented and ‘demonstrates the strength of feeling’.
NAHT leader Paul Whiteman said head teachers were not really ‘the marching type’ and if they were protesting, something must be ‘seriously wrong’. Labour’s shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said: ‘This unprecedented action by head teachers is a clear sign of the desperate struggle they now face to provide a decent education while balancing the books.’
Ros Allen, head at Roseberry School, Epsom, told News Line: ‘We’re here because schools are critically underfunded. ‘We need the government to recognise that students are being adversely affected today. This is an immediate crisis. ‘There are half a million more students than there were five years ago, and there are 5,000 less teachers than there were a year ago.
‘We have students with very complex special needs and mental health needs.
‘The government has cut all the services to those children and schools are having to fill that gap, otherwise these children are left with no support at all.’
The head of Urswick School in Hackney, east London, Richard Brown said: ‘We are not people usually out on demonstrations or protests. ‘The government keeps falsely claiming that there is more money for schools than ever before. ‘The truth is there are more children and greater cost pressures than ever before. As a result, the people who will suffer are children and our country’s future.’