Two mums are calling on parents, grandparents and supporters to join them outside their children’s school this Friday (March 17) in protest at government cuts.
Amanda Alexander and Jo Warner are so angry about the proposed funding chop they’ve organised a demonstration at Kelsall Primary School.
The pair, who both have children at Kelsall, hope parents at other schools will follow suit.
Teaching unions reckon the new national funding formula will leave Cheshire West schools poorer to the tune of £22m by 2019/20, equal to 600 teaching posts.
Headteachers are having to contemplate larger class sizes and even curtailing the working week to just four days.
“We want to make as much noise as possible,” said Amanda, from Kelsall, whose 10-year-old son Freddie attends Kelsall Primary. “Hopefully the government will start to feel the pressure.”
Kelsall Primary, which was rated outstanding by Ofsted in 2012, is forecast to lose £466 per pupil by 2019 – or the equivalent of two full time teachers.
While Tarporley High, where Amanda's 15-year-old son Max is a pupil, faces losing £636 per pupil – the equivalent of 15 teachers.
Amanda, who runs a coaching and training consultancy, encourages everyone and anyone to join the demonstration, being held from 8am this Friday, before school starts. Teachers at Kelsall are supportive of the action.
In a press release, she wrote: “In last week’s controversial budget, the Chancellor announced £300m for the creation of more free schools and grammar schools, despite no evidence to prove that this would increase standards for all pupils, rather than funding existing schools that are already in funding crisis. Campaigners say that the government’s proposals will negatively impact 98% of schools in the UK.”
Fellow protestor Jo Warner, from Sandiway, first came up with the idea of a demonstration.
She and husband Tim have children Sam, 10 and Harry, eight, who attend Kelsall Primary and four-year-old Elodie, four, goes to Kelsall Pre-School. They moved their kids to Kelsall after seeing the negative impact of an underfunded school.
After finding out about the proposed government cuts, she said: “I was really, really angry about it. All schools should be funded fairly, all children should be funded fairly. They shouldn’t be robbing Peter to pay Paul!”
Ministers claim the proposed changes will resolve ‘unfair’ and ‘inconsistent’ funding but Jo is not convinced because she believes even schools in deprived areas will lose out.
Jo, who manages a baby swimming company, added: “At Kelsall they want to save more than £90,000 a year by 2019 or about £466 per pupil. You don’t save that by bulk buying pencil sharpeners. It’s teachers' salaries, it’s narrowing the curriculum, it’s support teachers.”
Explaining her passion, she said: “I’m a mum first and foremost and this affects my children.”
NUT divisional secretary Greg Foster, a teacher at Upton-by-Chester High School, said: “It’s great to see parents getting involved. People are beginning to see what’s happening to schools. This will have a tremendous impact on the children of Cheshire West and Chester; bigger class sizes, the use of poorly trained teachers and possibly a shorter week.”
■ Upton High School chair of governors Ann-Marie Asbridge has just written to parents and carers asking them to contact Chester MP Chris Matheson to protest at the cuts before the consultation period ends on March 22.
A ‘Stop School Cuts’ march is taking place at 1pm on Saturday, March 25, at Chester Cross where the NUT’s Greg Foster and Cheshire West and Chester councillor Nicole Meardon, cabinet member for children and families, will address the crowd.
Cllr Meardon told The Chronicle on Wednesday about a meeting this week with schools minister Nick Gibb MP.
She said: “Justin Madders MP, Chris Matheson MP and I met with the minister yesterday to discuss school funding so we are still continuing to put pressure on the Government and stand up for our schools.
“Unfortunately I didn’t get the impression there is much room for manoeuvre. The problem is that there isn’t enough money to go round! I really hope that as more parents become aware and protest, the Government will listen.”