Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, and the campaign group Save our Schools are organising a day of protest highlighting inadequate school funding.
Her action was triggered by a decision at her son’s school to close early on Fridays to save money.
She has started a crowd funding appeal to pay for a ‘huge campaign day’. She hopes parents will travel to London to leave similarly-affected pupils at the Department for Education while she and parents of SEND children will go to Downing Street.
The DfE thinks such action is unnecessary. A press release yesterday said the Education and Skills Funding Agency had sent a ‘school resource management adviser’ to give ‘additional support to Birmingham City Council’. If the council wishes, the consultant can ‘provide tailored advice to schools on how best to use their resources’.
A DfE spokesperson, a model of complacency, said the DfE knew schools faced ‘budgeting challenges’ but Birmingham received per pupil funding ‘significantly above the national average’.
But per pupil funding will still be less than in 2015/16. No amount of puff blows away this truth: the national average of school funding in England is too low. And the boasted ‘additional £1.3 billion into core schools funding’ isn’t new money but cash shuffled from elsewhere in the education budget.
Yesterday, the Chancellor said the UK had billions of pounds to spend. But little of this windfall is coming to England’s schools.
Schools need sufficient funding now not at some later date. No amount of advice, whether from a minister offering bottles of champagne if he can’t find more ways for a school to save money or from an adviser parachuted in from Sanctuary Buildings, can soften the effect of inadequate school funding.
The jam is already spread too thinly. Patronising guidance about how to make it go further won’t make it go further.
FOOTNOTE: Listen to NEU members talking about the effects of school cuts here.