School leaders warn of approaching ‘cliff edge’ at funding protest on Downing Street

School leaders from south west London joined hundreds of other headteachers at a protest in the capital today to demand greater funding for education.

Schools in Kingston and Twickenham were represented at the march that began in Parliament Square before heading to Downing Street to deliver a letter addressed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond.

The letter called for all schools to be funded adequately and detailed how hard-pressed schools are making cuts to their curricular and extra-curricular activities.

Mark Clutterbuck, headteacher of Coombe Hill Junior School in Kingston, said there was little else his school could do to save money in a way that wouldn’t have a direct impact on the education or wellbeing of his pupils.

Mr Clutterbuck said: “We have reduced staff year on year. We are now sharing staff with our neighbouring schools to try and save money.

“We have put appeals out to parents and I am very grateful to our parents because if it wasn’t for them we would have been in trouble a lot sooner than we were.”

The headteachers say the Government is not listening to their concerns and is failing to support a generation of pupils. Others linked the school funding pressures to the wider issue of local government funding.

UNDER PRESSURE: Headteachers deliver a letter to Downing Street

Richard Burke, the Principal of St Richards Reynolds Catholic College in Twickenham, said: “Schools are now expected to deliver mental health services, counselling or other issues that we need to address within society.

“I think the demands on young people are increasing day by day and year on year.”

He added: “We cannot go on any longer and there is a cliff edge coming, the Government realise or should realise, and if they don’t there are going to be serious repercussions.”

The headteachers were joined by parents and teaching unions such as the Association of Schools and College Leaders (ASCL), which represents nearly 19,000 school and college leaders.

ASCL chairman, Geoff Barton, said: “These are the people on the frontline and this is them coming together to say we cannot continue to make cuts.

“This is in one sense not about funding, it is about an entitlement to a decent education for young people and we cannot do it on the money being given.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “There is more money going into schools than ever before, rising to a record £43.5 billion by 2020 – 50% more in real terms per pupil than in 2000. The OECD has recently confirmed that the UK is the third highest spender on education in the world, spending more per pupil than countries including Germany, Australia and Japan.

“Every school attracts more funding per pupil through the National Funding Formula, high needs funding has risen to over £6 billion this year and the 3.5% pay rise we announced for classroom teachers on the main pay range is backed by £508 million government funding.

“We know that we are asking schools to do more, which is why we are helping them to reduce the £10 billion spent each year on non-staffing costs, providing government-backed deals for things like printers and energy suppliers that are helping to save millions of pounds.”

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