When Philip Hammond stood up to deliver his budget speech on Monday, we – along with teachers, parents, headteachers, unions, other campaign groups and many MPs – had reasonable expectations. Knowing that campaigners across the country have highlighted very effectively the impact of the 8% cuts to school budgets, we expected at the least an acknowledgement of the difficulties schools are facing. Instead, we were expected to be gratified by the announcement that schools could have a “little extra” to buy a new computer. Even though many schools have long since had to reduce the number of teaching assistants they can employ to help children use that computer.
Schools are increasingly reliant on parent teacher associations for funds. Traditionally these associations have funded additional equipment and trips which extend and enrich our children’s experience of school. But parent associations are now being asked to provide the funds for basic equipment – like paper!
Parent school associations depend on support from local parents. And therefore on the depth of those parents’ pockets. So by asking parents to pay for school essentials, it’s quite likely that schools will not only continue to suffer, but that educational inequality will rise further.
We need to continue highlighting the struggle in our schools to provide the essentials – like teaching assistants, support for children with special educational needs, and repairs to buildings. Please keep us informed about what your local PTA/HSA is being asked to pay for, so we can add strength to the campaign.
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Our children deserve better. #LittleExtras