Parents’ call to save our schools

The panel at the Sallis Benney Theatre
The panel at the Sallis Benney Theatre

Parents, teachers, activists and educational experts gathered together on Tuesday evening to slam government cuts to schools in Brighton and Hove.

More than 120 people gathered for the public meeting at the Sallis Benney Theatre in Brighton with a panel of six speakers having their say.

Gemma Haley, one of the original campaign members. SUS-170316-085522001

Gemma Haley, one of the original campaign members. SUS-170316-085522001

Speaker James Williams, educational lecturer at University of Sussex, said: “We’ve got so many crises that we just can’t deal with them.”

“We need to think, not about the cost of education, but what we can invest in education. Investing in teachers is not a cost to society but a vital investment.”

Mr Williams said over the past five years, teaching had seen 10,000 fewer applications.

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, gave statistics on how funding will impact local schools.

He said, by 2020, Queen’s Park Primary School will be short by £385 per pupil if admission numbers remain the same. This would result in a cut of more than £158,000, equivalent of four teachers.

Carlton Hill Primary School would see a cut of £545 per pupil if admission remains the same – a total cut of £118,000 or three teachers.

“It’s a crisis in funding,” he said. – “The government is telling you lies, half-truths – which are the same as lies.

“They tell you, we’ve got more teachers than we’ve ever had.

“That’s true, but it’s not much use unless you say, we’ve got more pupils than we’ve ever had and there aren’t enough teachers to go around.”

He urged parents and teachers not to put up with it anymore.

“If a government minister tells you education is expensive, tell them ‘try ignorance as the alternative,” he said.

Parent-led campaign Save Our Schools, which opposes funding cuts to schools in Brighton and Hove also attended the meeting.

The campaign was started last year by four concerned parents and has since grown to 12 members and attracted more than 300 likes in its Facebook page.

Gemma Haley, 43, from Preston Park was one of the original campaign members.

“We’re doing it because we truly believe that parents are best placed to come together to stand up against these hideous cuts,” she said.

“Our children have one shot at a decent education.

“A world class education is getting harder and harder for our schools and teachers to deliver.”

Save Our Schools members say, despite government cuts, their trust and respect for both schools and teachers remain.

Mrs Haley urged parents, teachers and head teachers to unite: “It’s time for parents to rise up.”