Lobbyists will gather together this morning to hear rally speeches before proceeding to the House of Commons to meet with their MPs.
The aim of the mass lobby, which has been organised by the six unions (ASCL, GMB, NAHT, NEU, Unison and Unite) that make up the School Cuts Coalition, is to make MPs aware that schools are being seriously underfunded and the negative impact this is having on children and young people’s education, as well as to call for change.
Attendees, representative of the majority of constituencies (400) in England and Wales, will be asking MPs to join them in demanding that the Chancellor releases more funds for schools to ensure every pupil gets the education they deserve.
While unions and teaching staff have welcomed the £1.3bn in Government funding for schools over two years, they argue it falls far short of the amount needed to reverse the £2.8bn real terms cuts that schools have suffered every year since the 2015 General Election, and will not protect against the further impact of inflation and other cost increases.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said, ‘This lobby is another indication that the Government cannot ignore the message they received loud and clear in the General Election that our schools are on their knees financially and the public do not accept this should be the case. Increasingly, as a joint NEU/TES survey showed, teachers are now paying for materials out of their own pockets to try and plug the gaps. This, however, is a crisis that goes far beyond a quick fix. The Chancellor needs to address this in his Budget by giving schools the money needed to ensure our children and young people get the education in the 21st century they both deserve and need.’
Jon Richards, head of education at Unison, said, ‘Education budgets have been cut to the bone in recent years, and school support staff have suffered huge job losses. If the Government thinks it can make further cuts to staff and services with no impact on pupils, then it's living in a fantasy world. The only thing that’s going to save schools, and ensure pupils get the decent, well-resourced education they need, is more money. The Chancellor needs to stop snipping away at children's education, and properly invest in their future.’
Meanwhile, a report on teacher recruitment and retention by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), published today, shows the teacher supply challenge in London is particularly acute. It finds that London has considerably more teachers leaving the profession compared to other areas, including other large cities such as Birmingham and Manchester.
The NFER says it comes at a time when pupil numbers are rising faster in the capital than anywhere else. The report says that the cost of housing is likely to be a key factor influencing these trends and recommends policy makers look at how interventions, such as housing subsides, could help to retain teachers in high-cost areas.