Fair Funding Lambeth event with Chuka Umunna

Streatham’s Chuka Umunna rallies round campaigners’ efforts to stop school cuts

Parents, teachers and campaigners have joined Streatham’s Labour candidate in calling for a reversal of proposed Conservative cuts to the constituency’s schools.

Lambeth will face education cuts of £24m per year, the equivalent of 565 teachers, making it one of the worst affected areas in the country.

Ahead of the election, Labour candidate Chuka Umunna outlined his party’s promise to increase funding into early years education.

He said: “It is the same story across the country. These cuts will rob our young people of opportunities in the future by denying them the chance to gain the skills they need to succeed, and will deprive our businesses of the skilled workforce they need to compete.

“The Labour Party, if elected, is committed to universal child care for all two-to-four-year-olds and will invest in our schools by creating the hundreds of thousands of school places to ensure that all children can get the best possible start in life.”

More than 300 parents, teachers and children gathered on Streatham Common last week to protest against the cuts.

Labour’s Mr Umunna, Alex Davies of the Lib Dems, the Green Party’s Nicole Griffiths and Fair Funding for all Schools Lambeth co-chair Fionna Martin each addressed the crowds in support of increasing funding.

All 29 schools in Streatham are facing further budget restrictions under the current Conservative manifesto.

Mrs Martin believes the campaign has achieved a significant amount both locally and nationally, but more still needs to be done to safeguard education services for all children in the constituency.

“We have formed a very strong coalition of parents, governors and teachers all committed to excellence in our schools and maintaining the funding that has allowed Lambeth schools to go from some of the worst performing in 1980s to some of the best performing in the country now,” she said.

“Education is absolutely vital and pivotal to the future of our country.

“We’ve managed to prompt a u-turn from the Conservatives who were insisting on not a penny of additional funding but have now said they are going to commit £4b over five years, which is still inadequate but is a small step in the right direction.

“We’re talking to parents who all voted in very different ways during the 2015 election, but none of them voted to have the money funding their child’s education and future life choices cut.”

Mrs Martin is a former pupil of Streatham’s Dunraven School. The school will lose more than £1m in funding, up to 24 teachers and an average of £833 per pupil under the Conservative pledges.

In contrast, Labour’s manifesto commitments would see the school gain funding worth £71,828, as well as two teachers and £24 per pupil.

Under a Liberal Democrat government, the school would lose £734,808, at a cost of £584 per pupil and would risk losing 17 teachers.

Conservative candidate Kim Caddy was the only major party candidate not to attend the event and both Mrs Martin and Mr Davies expressed disappointment at her failure to engage in discussions over school funding.

Mrs Martin said: “It’s a mistake not to engage with us because the Fair Funding For All Schools Campaign has successfully managed to get education funding on the national agenda and into the manifestos for all three major political parties.

“To not engage with parents in a respectful discussion about what a vote for them on June 8 could mean for their children and for their school’s funding is very strange and very disappointing for all of us.”

Mr Davies said: “It shows what the Conservatives are doing is indefensible, especially in an area like ours, where people are taken in by the fantasy of grammar schools.

“I thought it was very telling that they were given the opportunity to send anyone, but I can’t believe there wasn’t a single Conservative in Lambeth available to talk about their policies.”

Schools in the area have, on average, faced cuts of 14%. Conservative candidate Mrs Caddy declined to comment.

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