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Children join Tower Hamlets council’s lobby of MPs to stop cuts to school budgets

PUBLISHED: 12:08 25 October 2017 | UPDATED: 09:11 26 October 2017

The NUT's Alex Kenny, from the East London Teachers Association, addresses MPs Jim Fitzpatrick and Rushanara Ali at Westminster. Picture: LBTH

The NUT's Alex Kenny, from the East London Teachers Association, addresses MPs Jim Fitzpatrick and Rushanara Ali at Westminster. Picture: LBTH

LBTH

Children were among protesters lobbying MPs at Westminster to try and prevent cuts in education in deprived areas like east London.

Children wave banners against school budget cuts at Mile End rally in May. Picture: Lene MilaaChildren wave banners against school budget cuts at Mile End rally in May. Picture: Lene Milaa

The delegation of teachers, parents, Tower Hamlets councillors and unions lobbied the East End’s two MPs, Rushanara Ali and Jim Fitzpatrick, to back their campaign.

“Our local MPs support the campaign to protect school funding,” the council’s scrutiny lead member for children’s services Danny Hassell said after yesterday’s lobby. “It’s up to the government to reverse the cuts and give our schools the money they need.”

He led the delegation to win the MPs’ backing. But it was a foregone conclusion.

Rushanara addressed a rally at Mile End in May with parents, teachers and children turning up to protest at the cuts to school budgets.

Mums with their children at Mile End rally in May. Picture: Lene MilaaMums with their children at Mile End rally in May. Picture: Lene Milaa

The town hall had also sent open letters to the prime minister and the Education State Secretary demanding an end to the cuts which Mayor John Biggs said would hit deprived areas like the East End the most.

The mayor said last night: “The reality of these cuts leave our schools with devastating budget cuts and fewer teachers in classrooms, taking money away from schools and pupils in the poorest areas.”

Schools in the East End have undergone “an incredible transformation” over recent years and are now some of the best in the country, he pointed out.

“We cannot allow this dramatic improvement to be undermined,” the mayor insisted.

Campaigning to stop education cuts... Tower Hamlets councillors Amy Whitelock Gibbs and Danny Hassell at a recent council cabinet meeting. Picture: Mike BrookeCampaigning to stop education cuts... Tower Hamlets councillors Amy Whitelock Gibbs and Danny Hassell at a recent council cabinet meeting. Picture: Mike Brooke

Tower Hamlets stands to lose £19m in the next three years, equal to £512 a year for each pupil, with 354 teachers facing redundancy, the campaigners claim.

The council’s children’s services cabinet member Amy Whitelock Gibbs said: “Our schools are already having to deal with difficult budget decisions and cannot cope with further cuts piled on top.

“We have the highest rate of child poverty in Britain—it cannot be fair that the government would take so much away from our schools and badly damage social mobility.

“We’ll keep pushing to give our schools the fair funding they deserve.”

East End schoolchildren join lobby of MPs at Westminster protesting at education budget cuts. Picture: LBTHEast End schoolchildren join lobby of MPs at Westminster protesting at education budget cuts. Picture: LBTH

The town hall and 74 headteachers sent an open letter to the Secretary of State earlier this year condemning the cuts and also joined 23 other local authorities writing to Downing Street in January calling for the prime minister to scrap them altogether.

Yesterday’s lobby follows a mass rally at Mile End Park five months ago with teachers, parents and the children themselves protesting against ending the formula that gives more cash to schools in deprived areas like the East End.

One mother at the rally, Lene Milaa from Mile End, told the East London Advertiser at the time: “The government can’t go on doing this to our children to make them stupid. These outrageous cuts are unacceptable.”

Among worst affected Tower Hamlets schools are Green Spring (formerly Bethnal Green) Academy, losing £1,153 for each pupil, Bow Secondary losing £1,144, St Paul’s Way £1,075, Oaklands £1,028 and Langdon Park £1,016.

Cuts in Tower Hamlets school budgets by 2020 would total £28m, forcing what the council says would be staff and teacher redundancies, bigger classes and fewer subjects being taught in order to balance the books.

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