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Schoolchildren to protest cuts on April 1 march to Guildhall

Hundreds of Cambridge schoolchildren are planning to march on Guildhall on April Fool’s Day to highlight the “foolish” funding cuts their schools are suffering and to demand more money for education from local and central government, writes Donna Ferguson.

Cambridge Guildhall. Picture Keith Heppell. (7991038)
Cambridge Guildhall. Picture Keith Heppell. (7991038)

The children will meet at Reality Checkpoint on Parker’s Piece at 4pm on Monday, April 1. Along with parents, teachers, councillors and celebrities, the children are being invited to dress up as fantasy characters from their favourite TV shows and books, to encourage politicians to stop living in a fantasy land and face up to the reality of what school funding cuts mean for children. Children are also welcome to attend in their school uniform.

The march was initiated this week by parents from St Matthew’s Primary School on Norfolk Street after headteacher Tony Davies spoke out about the £60,000 reduction in funding his school is facing next year.

Other local schools have been hit even harder. Last week, Netherhall School head Chris Tooley said the implications of the £200,000 cut in his school’s funding next year are “terrifying”.

25 06 16 Cambridge views, Guildhall. Picture: Keith Heppell. (7991057)
25 06 16 Cambridge views, Guildhall. Picture: Keith Heppell. (7991057)

School budgets have been hit by an 8 per cent cut in real terms since 2010, analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has shown. Cambridgeshire is one of the worst funded education authorities in England, according to figures from Cambridgeshire County Council: the county receives £400 less per child than the average authority and £1,600 less per child than Westminster.

“We are going on this march because we feel we cannot stand by and watch as teachers and children at our outstanding school are forced to bear the brunt of these massive funding cuts,” said march organiser and Petersfield resident Claire Summerfield, who has one child at St Matthew’s and another at Parkside Community College.

“In principle, we believe the government should fund schools properly to provide our children with an education – and that means all children, including the most vulnerable and those with special educational needs and disabilities. Yet schools are struggling to provide the support and education our children are entitled to.”

More information about the march can be found online via the Facebook page facebook.com/groups/fund.our.schools.uk.

Parents and teachers can request posters to advertise the march at their schools by emailing info@fundourschools.org.uk.

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