Having campaigned with the misleading line that there would be “more money for schools”, the Conservatives have found themselves without the mandate to enforce the £8.9bn worth of cuts that the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) reported was the real position of the manifesto.
As the general election campaign drew to a close, there was finally an admission that the picture on funding was “not how you would like it to be” by Home Secretary, Amber Rudd in an interview on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.
Rather than continue the deception, there is now a chance to properly address the funding crisis that is affecting schools now and secure future educational opportunities for our children.
Commentators seem in general agreement that the surprise result on Thursday was in large part due to a rejection of five more years of austerity. While not explicit in the Tory manifesto, this was starkly confirmed on live television when a nurse was told by Theresa May not to expect a real terms pay rise for the foreseeable future.
Furthermore, parents across the country have understood that headteachers are not in the habit of sending letters to them telling them that their school is struggling to balance the books without good reason. For many of us, the government’s clear intention to continue their harsh economy drive should not be at the expense of our children’s education. It is a priority for us and it should be for the future prospects of the nation.
In interviews over the weekend, several Conservative MPs have understood that a targeted loosening of the purse strings will be needed to convince voters to look at their party afresh before a likely further election in the not too distant future. This has been rightly been identified by the School Cuts campaign as a chance to ensure that our schools are the beneficiary.
A national petition has been set up to press for a real terms funding increase to address the current shortfall and a pledge not to implement any further cuts. If you care about the education of today’s and tomorrow’s school children, please sign and share it.
In many areas, including here in Brentwood, new MPs have taken office so there is a further opportunity to make a fresh case for school funding issues to be addressed. Locally, our new MP is Alex Burghart, a former teacher in the private sector who spent time at the education department as an assistant to then minister Tim Loughton.
I can confidently predict that all of our local heads will be welcoming the opportunity to meet Mr Burghart soon. They will do so warmly and with an open mind in the hope that his experience will have provided an appreciation of the importance of sufficient school funds to providing educational opportunity for all. As our new MP should be aware, Shenfield High School’s head, Carole Herman, spelt it out on national television after the budget in March. It is to be hoped that his response will be a constructive change from the denial and slavish adherence to the party line of his predecessor.
E mails in support of our headteachers stance on addressing the funding shortfall, as previously written about here, would therefore be very useful again.
Contact details for all MPs can be found here:
Mr Burghart can be contacted at
Let’s grab this unexpected opportunity to safeguard our children’s education.