Lambeth schools are set to lose an average of £400 per pupil from next year. Cllr Claire Holland says it's vital that we continue to fight Tory education cuts:
Last year, we worked with parents, teachers and local trade unions to oppose huge Tory cuts to Lambeth’s schools. Many parents were extremely concerned about the potential loss of hundreds of thousands of pounds from the budget of their child’s school, due to the Conservative government’s plans to cut funding for Lambeth schools by £24 million.
Lambeth Labour councillors joined hundreds of parents, teachers and local residents at a public meeting at Sunnyhill Primary school last March against these cuts. The Leader of Lambeth Council Cllr Lib Peck spoke at the meeting alongside local MP Helen Hayes, representatives from trade unions and local parents to make clear that we completely oppose cuts to our children’s education.
Over 1000 Lambeth residents signed our petition against the cuts and we spoke to thousands of people on the doorstep across the borough to raise awareness of the cuts. The council submitted detailed responses to the government’s consultations about the cuts and we lobbied the government to think again.
After that extensive campaign, replicated across the country and following significant opposition to the Conservatives during the 2017 General Election as a result of these plans, the Conservative government backed down slightly.
However, the extra funding announced in July was money taken from elsewhere in the education budget and it has soon become clear that it won’t allow schools to even standstill when ongoing cost pressures and inflation are taken into account.
Indeed, just this week the schools minister was rebuked by the National Statistics Authority for claiming to Parliament that school funding was rising when they have effectively frozen it at a time when schools’ costs continue to rise. It’s a trick we’ve seen Lambeth Conservatives try to pull as well, as they desperately hope that local people won’t realise that a vote for them is a vote for cuts to their local school.
Parents are right to be concerned – independent research on the School Cuts website estimates that Lambeth schools will lose approximately £14 million by 2019/20 – a cut in funding per pupil on average of over £400. Paxton Primary school in Gipsy Hill is estimated to lose £248,000, Bishop Thomas Grant Secondary school is expected to lose £431,000 and Sunny Hill Primary School (where the campaign meeting against these cuts was held last year) is estimated to lose £258,000.
Parents are rightly very concerned and the parent-led Fair Funding for Schools campaign has organised a national day of action with schools next week on 22nd March. We fully support this and we have written to Lambeth schools to set out our concerns about the funding picture.
We will work with parents and teachers to oppose these cuts, which could jeopardise the hard- earned, fantastic improvements that Lambeth schools have made in recent years. If you haven’t already, please sign our petition to oppose these cuts.
Labour believes that our children need investment in their education, not cuts. Sadly, that isn’t a view shared by the Tories in Westminster or in Lambeth. Indeed, the leader of Lambeth Tories criticised parents last year who campaigned against the cuts and their party is fully supportive of taking money away from Lambeth schools.
On 3rd May, residents can vote against Conservative cuts to local schools and for a Labour council which will continue to fight for our children’s education.
Cllr Claire Holland