Children lead Tower Hamlets’ giant postcard protest on school funding cuts
PUBLISHED: 17:11 17 July 2017 | UPDATED: 18:46 17 July 2017
© Rehan Jamil
Schoolchildren who took a petition to the Department of Education in Whitehall about school funds being cut have learned tonight that the government may have found some cash after all—but their mums, dads and teachers aren’t holding their breath.
Pupils from 60 Tower Hamlets schools were joined by the mayor and their local MPs to deliver five giant postcards signed by 5,000 campaigners.
The ‘postcard’ protest called on the prime minister to think again about cutting back on the money for their lessons.
“Our schools are under threat from the senseless cuts,” Mayor John Biggs fumed. “Thousands of people have spoken out to tell the government the cuts to budgets will be a disaster.”
The protest follows government changes to the funding formula which campaigners say are unfair to deprived areas like the East End.
Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick said: “Our schools should have the resources they need for a world-class education.”
Tower Hamlets schools were set to lose £33m by 2020, or nearly £1,000 for each pupil’s education—equal to losing almost 900 teachers or 1,400 support staff.
Bethnal Green & Bow MP Rushanara Ali said: “Schools in my constituency have gone from being some of the worst in the country to being some of the best. This will be a cap on aspiration.”
The teacher unions are calling for a five per cent rise in funding from September, followed by additional cash in April to reverse the cuts so far.
Education Secretary Justine Greening announced today an extra £1.3 billion for “schools and high needs” over the next two years.
But the Mayor of London believes the £1.3bn will come from existing budgets.
“We’ll lose teachers, while standards risk dropping,” Mayor Sadiq Khan said. “It risks shorter school days and extracurricular activities becoming a thing of the past.
“This is a kick in the teeth for everyone who has worked to make London an international beacon for education.”
London’s education has improved over the last two decades because of resources spent in the inner cities, the teacher unions maintain. The cuts they predict would put those achievements at risk with “worse is to come”.