Bristol and South Gloucestershire campaign against school budget cuts takes off, writes a local parent

10 May 2017

The campaign in Bristol and South Gloucestershire against school budget cuts is reaching and organising wider and wider networks of parents across the area. It’s not hard to see why there is so much anger—writes local parent, Huw Williams.

The level of cuts within Bristol schools is huge with many primaries having to cut £250,000 plus from their budgets and many secondaries £400,000 plus. Add on increased NI and pension contributions and (minimal) wage increases the outcome is devastating.

The reality of what this means is now becoming clear.

Redland Green School in Bristol sent a letter to parents asking for a monthly standing order to save 16 teaching posts. A primary school in Eastville is saying they are going to have to lose 12 posts. Many teaching assistants and non-teaching staff will face redundancy.

In South Gloucestershire—whilst the headline figures are not as big they start from a lower level of funding and so the impact is similar. One head in South Gloucestershire suggested going to a 4 day week.

The first meeting of parents was held in the Lockleaze area in Bristol and built around 5 primary schools and was attended by 65 people.

The South Gloucestershire parents and NUT organised a meeting with Kevin Courtney NUT general secretary and an amazing 300 people turned up. Further meetings across Bristol are forthcoming in Southmead, Easton and Brislington.

There has been significant coverage in the local press.

Bristol will see a march on May 2Oth and at the time of writing 20,000 leaflets have more or less gone and 10,000 more being printed, with 500 posters and 3,000 stickers for the demo we aim to make it a massive show of opposition to the government.

Scores of parents are taking leaflets in their hundreds to give out in the school yard. We have been leafleting on the school gates and getting a great response. A number of headteachers across the city have openly supported the march and have sent out parent mail calling on people to attend.

Most days requests for leaflets at different schools come in and the campaign is growing a network of parents who will act as school reps. In South Gloucestershire this is well developed.

It is worth noting that a network of parents developed prior to this in South Gloucestershire around the Winterbourne Academy strike a while back which saw parents on mass support the teachers and a huge victory for that strike.

Following the march the aim is to get as much organisation in Bristol amongst parents as possible. If the attacks continue we have a chance to score a major victory.

There is talk of a national demonstration prior to the Autumn budget. If this attack is still on the table then this should be called and seen as a major mobilisation from across the country. Where school staff strike there is now the basis for mass and active support by parents.

We need to seize the time.

 

Huw Williams, parent

 

 

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