West Midland schools protest over ‘hidden funds crisis’
Nearly 100 schools across the Black Country and Staffordshire were due to stage protests against cuts to education funding today.
Headteachers, staff and councillors organised the demonstrations, which highlighted Government cuts to budgets which they say are placing schools under unbearable pressure.
Banners claiming to reveal the ‘real terms cut to school budgets’ were erected at 53 schools in Walsall, as well as 44 primaries and secondaries elsewhere in the Black Country and Staffordshire.
The National Education Union (NEU) says that Walsall schools are facing budget cuts of £9.5 million between 2015 and 2020.
General secretary Russell Bragger says this is equivalent to 215 teacher’s jobs and is an average cut of £242 per pupil per year.
“Schools are finding it increasing difficult to fund the education our children deserve,” he said.
“Many teaching assistant and teachers’ jobs have been cut and this will get worse over the next two years. Children only have one chance of a good education, they deserve proper funding.”
The banners have been organised by a parents group ‘SOS – Save Our Schools West Midlands’.
The NEU says that some schools in Walsall are facing cuts of up to seven per cent, which campaigners say will result in increased class sizes, job losses and cuts to extra-curricular activities and resources.
Councillor Aftab Nawaz, Walsall Council’s education chief, supported the protests. He said: “It is simply not good enough for the Government to make this level of real term cuts to school budgets if they are serious about the education of our children."
Darlaston South councillor Doug James, said he supported the banner drop and would be attending the protest at Pinfold Street Primary School.
He said: “This is a hidden crisis which has impacted on schools across the area.
“At its core, it is about rising costs in schools. Headteachers are trying their best to provide good opportunities for young people, but they need assistance from central government.
“I want this to be discussed publicly.”
More than 200 schools in the West Midlands joined the protests. There were due to be 20 banners at Staffordshire schools, 10 in Dudley, eight in Sandwell, six in Wolverhampton and 60 in Birmingham.