Schools Need Hard Cash Not Words
Local parent-led Save Our Schools West Sussex campaign group is heartened by recent signals from West Sussex County Council and MPs on school funding.
While discussions and pledges are welcomed, the group urges immediate action to redress historic, long-term unfair funding levels in our schools.
Time for more than words and meetings
“We’ve been tirelessly campaigning for over a year on the funding issue and feel frustrated that so little progress has been made by those in positions on power”, says SOS West Sussex campaigner Sarah Maynard. “It’s positive that this issue is being raised more frequently at county level and that meetings have been taking place between the Leader of West Sussex County Council, Louise Goldsmith, and West Sussex MPs, but schools are desperate for adequate funding now. Schools and our children’s education need more than words and meetings, they need action!”
Campaign group member Marina Jefferiss continues, “Headteachers are becoming increasingly outspoken about the dire budgetary predicament they are in. As parents, we are extremely concerned that schools cannot continue to provide the education our children deserve”.
Teachers and parents share same concerns
Save Our Schools West Sussex fully supports the Worth Less? campaign led by headteachers and its recent actions to step up the pressure on decision makers to adequately fund all schools. Marina continues, “ultimately parents and teachers share many of the same concerns about the negative impact on school standards, performance and narrowing of the curriculum”.
Unable to maintain welfare and safety levels in schools because of cuts
“Testimony from headteachers at the CYPPSC (Children and Young People’s Select Committee) meeting on 18th November, which members from our group attended, was truly shocking. Four headteachers spoke frankly about the disadvantage facing children in West Sussex schools when compared to other children in similar schools in other areas”, explained campaigner Mel Pickett. “We heard one Head say he didn’t feel he could maintain welfare and safety levels after losing key support staff and another describe intolerable teacher stress and the narrowing of subjects being offered. How on earth can this be allowed to happen?”
Special school headteacher, Grahame Robson, of Manor Green, Crawley, has recently stated publicly that with the current funding shortfall, “we’ve got three years before we can’t do our job”. “Where does that leave some of the most vulnerable children with the most complex needs in our county?” asks Sarah Maynard, “the clock is ticking and it’s deeply concerning”.
Richard Burrett, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, declared new funding formula “not fit for purpose”
“We acknowledge that West Sussex County Council appears to be taking this issue seriously”, continues Sarah Maynard. “Richard Burrett, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, has recently publicly declared the new funding formula “not fit for purpose” and stated that he would “continue to campaign for fairer funding””. “We are now keen to know what action he and the rest of the County Council will be taking to put pressure on Government to make meaningful changes to the formula and to the overall education budget to meet rising costs”.
Group campaigner Onay Faiz states “we want to support and add noise to the County Council’s campaign and have sent an invitation to West Sussex to form a sub committee group, involving stakeholder representatives including our group, to focus on the funding issue and deliver real change”. No formal response to this invitation has been received to date.
Fighting for education as basic human right
“Adequate funding is fundamental to deliver the rich, well-rounded education that we consider to be our children’s basic human right. We are fighting for all aspects of education, and in particular, those that we have seen negatively impacted by chronic underfunding: wellbeing and mental health support in schools, vital support and intervention for children with special educational needs, creativity in the curriculum, extra curricular and enrichment opportunities, to mention but a few” says Mel Pickett.
Onay Faiz continues, “We are fighting for our children in school at the moment – time is running out for them – as well as for future generations. An education made up of the bare minimum simply isn’t acceptable. We must invest in education now or risk a very worrying future”.
West Sussex MPs need to lobby their decision-making colleagues in Parliament on school funding
Onay Faiz states, “In addition to County Council, we urge West Sussex MPs to take positive action to lobby their Parliamentary decision-making colleagues on school funding. Local meetings and tweets aren’t sufficient. Tell us what your action points are and how we can add our voices”. SOS West Sussex urges parents to contact their MPs and ask that they take action on this vital issue.
Save Our Schools West Sussex will be organising a focus group in March with key stakeholders to devise a campaign action plan for 2018 and will continue to lobby councillors, MPs and the new Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds. SOS West Sussex parents, who sent Christmas wish list letters to Justine Greening, Hind’s predecessor, have yet to receive replies from Hinds. “We will be chasing for responses”, asserts Sarah Maynard.
The next CYPPSC meeting will be held at 10.30 am on Wednesday 14th March at City Hall, Chichester and is open to the public. Save Our School West Sussex encourages parents and stakeholders to attend the public gallery and show cabinet members the level of their concern.
Join the campaign to Save Our Schools
SOS West Sussex invites parents and stakeholders to join their growing campaign, pledging support on
by email firstname.lastname@example.org
“Add your voices to the growing clamour by using #schoolcuts, #fairfunding, #schoolsjustwannahavefunds and tweeting @PhilipHammondUK and @hmtreasury directly” recommends Mel Pickett and her fellow campaigners.