Parents and teachers alike have voiced their anger and concern about cuts to school budgets during a picnic at an Ely primary school this afternoon.
The Lantern Community Primary School was among numerous schools and colleges nationwide to host “Fair Funding Picnics” today, organised by the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the country’s biggest teaching union, together with Fair Funding for Schools, a parent led campaign group.
School Cuts, a campaign funded by the NUT and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, warns that without a major cash injection, Cambridgeshire’s schools will be £18,904,536 worse off by 2020, will on average be spending £249 less per pupil and lose an estimated 507 teachers across the county.
Cambridgeshire schools are already among the poorest funded in the country, receiving £600 less per pupil than the English average, with £4200 a year being spent per student. In sharp contrast, students in the best funded areas receive £6300 in spending.
According to School Cuts, The Lantern alone will face cuts of £125,697 cut by 2019, a loss of £277 per pupil, amounting to the equivalent loss of four teachers.
The school will be losing teaching assistant (TA) hours from September, with more cutbacks expected in the future.
Year one teacher Charlotte Leaver said: “This will be really detrimental to the education of our children.”
Mother-of-three Alex Peake said she was “very concerned” by the loss in teaching assistant hours.
“I don’t know how the school is going to be able to cope.
“My son benefits from the extra tuition because he has additional needs.
“While this is happening the government is spending more money on free schools and grammar schools.
“I want to know why under Fairer Funding our budgets are decreasing, not increasing, when we are already below the national average.”
Mother-of-two and pre-school teacher Michelle Smith said one of her sons had received “lots of support” from teaching assistants while he was at primary school.
“It worries me that he won’t get that support when he goes to secondary school and also that other children in a similar situation, who have additional needs but don’t quality for extra funding, will manage.
“Without the TAs how will the children get that support?”
Emma Elsey, mother to Isobel, 11, and Eleanor, 14, said that much of the crucial work carried out by backroom support staff would be lost.
“The population of children is going up but the funding is not.
“We are starting to see the effects of the cuts. Obviously it’s a concern.”
According to Fair Funding for All Schools, schools are facing a funding crisis because while costs were increasing, per pupil funding was not being protected in line with inflation.
They say that in real terms, funding would decrease, resulting in a £3 billion funding shortfall within the next five years. As a result, all schools would have to make cuts of 8% to balance their books – resulting in bigger classes and cuts in staffing, materials and subjects on offer.
NUT David Seagrave said the aim of today’s picnic at The Lantern was to highlight to parents “the serious cuts that are coming into education”.
He said: “The cuts to this school are to the equivalent of four teachers.
“The way to fight it is to work with local parents to put pressure on the politicians to stop the cuts.”
Late last year, five Cambridgeshire headteachers, including Ely College principal Richard Spencer, Witchford Village College principal Chris Terry and Bottisham Village College principal Jonathan Russell met with Education Secretary Justine Greening to voice their dismay at delays to provide fairer funding for the county’s schools.
The meeting was hosted by South East Cambridgeshire MP Lucy Frazer.
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