On Tuesday 24th October, during the school half-term week, members of Stevenage Labour party joined parents, teachers and children from across the country visiting parliament to lobby hundreds of MPs for fairer school funding.
Image: Stevenage CLP members outside parliament at the National Education Union rally.
A taste of what the day involved can be seen in the video.
Unfortunately, the Conservative MP for Stevenage, Stephen McPartland, was not available to have even a short meeting with the teaching staff and education activists who had travelled from his constituency due to “prior commitments” in his diary. This was particularly disappointing as Mr McPartland had previously declined an invitation to join all the other parliamentary candidates at the special Education Hustings just before the June 2017 General Election. At that meeting, he would have heard students, teachers, support staff and parents giving a very clear picture of the detrimental effects of austerity on school children and staff across Stevenage. The extent of these cuts for individual schools can be seen at www.schoolcuts.org.uk.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary was available to speak with the Stevenage contingent. We remembered the success of the London Challenge school improvement programme launched by the Labour government in 2003, as credited by Ofsted and others for a significant improvement in London's state education system.
Image: Angela Rayner with Stevenage CLP member Jill Borcherds
Our MP proclaims that he is “Passionate about fairness”, yet in Stevenage just two of the town’s six secondary schools were transformed under Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme as the then Education Secretary, Michael Gove, announced in July 2010 that the programme would be scrapped. The ‘schoolcuts.org.uk’ website shows that 94% of all schools in Stevenage are set to face further funding cuts. Perhaps Mr McPartland is really just passionate about making all of our schools more poor, equally?
A well-funded education system is essential to improving social mobility, helps build a fairer society and is crucial if we are to have a successful growing economy. Labour’s plan for a National Education Service will ensure that all our schools are given the funding they need, provide school staff with the pay that they deserve, and offer all of our children the very best quality education that they can be given.
You can’t get good education on the cheap. Schools need more money now!
Jill Borcherds and Howard Ricketts