Hundreds of parents are heading to Parliament to call for further action to be taken over school funding.
Members of Save Our Schools West Sussex will meet their MPs today (October 24) to demand that pupil funding be increased to meet rising costs. Some have collected messages and testimony from other concerned parents and plan to present them on a scroll to Worthing West MP Sir Peter Bottomley. In July, the government announced an extra £1.3bn for education over two years - a figure Justine Greening, secretary of state for education, described as “a record high”. Headteachers, though, said the money was nowhere near enough to enable historically low-funded schools to make end meet. Campaigner Sarah Maynard said: “The problem we’re facing is that the new formula put forward by the government still leaves our children far short of what they need for the excellent education promised by Justine Greening. “Sad to say, the funding solution on the table just doesn’t stretch far enough - especially in West Sussex where our schools have been among the worst-funded in the country for years. We’re already coming at this from an extremely disadvantaged standpoint.” The parents said the new National Funding Formula was little more than a “reshuffle” of funds and pointed out that the vast majority of schools still faced real-term budget cuts, due to increasing costs. Mum Onay Faiz said: “How this funding crisis translates in our schools is the loss of even the most basic provisions - books and stationery, money for the upkeep of buildings, cleaning services, lack of toilet rolls and soap! “I’m hearing stories from angry parents who say that school windows are being bricked up as a cost-cutting measure because the school cannot afford to have proper repairs done. “West Sussex schools have been terribly compromised for such a long time that the staff are running on goodwill and self-sacrifice. That’s just not on. “We cannot continue to expect our teachers to soldier on regardless; the reality is that teachers are either burning out or giving up on the profession through sheer frustration. “Is that the direction in which we want our education system to go?” SOS campaigner Mel Pickett added: “It doesn’t matter a jot what ‘record levels’ are being put in. “This is not about good PR, fancy track records, or box-ticking for votes. “Put simply, you can’t bake a cake if you can’t afford the basic ingredients. “If funding levels are insufficient, then our children’s education will be compromised. And if 4,000 schools are complaining that their numbers don’t stack up, then, as parents, we must listen to that problem. “Our message to our MPs? Stop with the rhetoric and grapple the problem.”