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The Chancellor must listen to parents and fund education

Teachers, parents and children lobbied Parliament this month to campaign for a better, more prosperous and fairer future.

Teachers who deserve recognition and a fair salary for their work; parents who want the best for their children; students who are being denied opportunity by a Government intent on forcing through ideological cuts.

Already these young pupils have had to cope with years of cuts, while student numbers are rising and there are scarcely enough teachers or resources to support them.

I spoke to constituents concerned and worried about the biggest shortfall in school funding in a generation, because while school and academy costs are rising the Government is still failing to provide the level of funding they need to meet costs.

Under pressure the Department for Education found an additional £1.3 billion for schools from 2018-20, but this is still not enough to reverse the cuts imposed by the Conservative Government.

Schools have lost £2.8 billion in funding since 2015 alone, with 88 per cent of schools, over 17,000 in total, still facing real terms cuts.

The Government maintains its smoke and mirrors campaign by stating the education budget is increasing to record levels. This is not true: the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies stated unequivocally that despite the £1.3 billion found, the school budget will fall by 4.6 per cent when inflation and past cuts are considered. A shocking 9,400 schools were in budget deficit in 2015-16.

It is for this reason that 4,000 School Heads had to sit down and write to parents in September saying there is “simply not enough money in the system” to fund schools properly.

In our own community of Hornsey & Wood Green 37 out of 37 schools will see their real terms budget fall. From an income per pupil in 2015-16 of £5,851.40, by 2019-20 this will stand at £5,909.95 – a fall of six per cent.

St Thomas More Catholic School and Alexandra Primary School will have to absorb a real terms cut of nine per cent, while Woodside High School and Greig City Academy will see their budget fall by eight per cent and Hornsey School for Girls seven per cent.

We know what the result will be: schools already under immense pressure and cut to the bone will have to increase class sizes, reduce the curriculum and will struggle to recruit enough staff or retain good teachers.

Ask not just teachers, but experts and unions, and they will say the same –  that the situation is bleak, with staff morale at an all-time low.

The point is simple: the cake is not big enough. The Government must invest in the next generation.

Next month the Chancellor of the Exchequer has a chance to do just that. When Philip Hammond delivers his Budget he must cover the current shortfall by releasing new money from the Treasury – not move money around from other areas of education spending.

The UK is one of the most wealthy nations in the world and this should be reflected in our education spending, which has been slashed since 2010.

Theresa May has spoken time and time again of an economy that works for all; yet families continue to be let down.

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Catherine West
About Catherine West (15 Articles)

Labour Member of Parliament for Hornsey & Wood Green | Shadow Foreign Minister | Mum of two |