Phelim Mac Cafferty: Education is for all, not just a privileged few

Phelim Mac Cafferty
Phelim Mac Cafferty

Under the Conservative Government, money for our schools is being cut. 
In real terms, schools nationwide are set to lose £3 billion a year by 2020. Schools are struggling to make ends meet with costs rising for building maintenance, staff pensions and resources.

We should be clear however that the proposals will see teachers sacked and children’s educational opportunities stunted.

To add to headteachers’ woes, a £2.9m grant given to the council for ‘education services’ has been completely phased out, leaving the council with little extra money to support schools with these changes. Any school pupil would recognise the sums do not add up.

When funding for local schools is cut, it is our students who will bear the cost. Subjects in the curriculum are axed, resources not replenished, staff stretched and class sizes rise. The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has warned that educational outcomes will suffer.

Schools receive money ‘per pupil’ they take on, creating a lottery where schools and nurseries with fewer pupils are forced to drop staff and subjects or worse, close down.

Parents are already being consulted about the closure of nursery classes at Middle Street and Queens Park Primary Schools. Brunswick Primary for example, will receive £144 less per pupil, and cuts could axe three teaching jobs.

The new funding arrangements will see 33 primary schools and four secondary schools in Brighton and Hove losing out.

Despite their fantastic work, schools in Brighton and Hove will have a £11m deficit by 2019.

What I find most frustrating is that there is money to go around but the Conservative Government is hell bent on spending it only to pursue their failed policy on selective and ‘free’ schools while mainstream education is left to suffer.

I was appalled last week to see the Chancellor find millions of pounds for free school transport and additional funding for selective schools only.

Greens are backing the local ‘Save our Schools’ campaign as we believe that education should be for all pupils, not just the privileged few. It is an investment in future generations and we cannot afford to let them down.

Phelim Mac Cafferty is the convenor of the Green Group on Brighton and Hove City Council.