Read here what SOS have been up to and what our plans are for the next few weeks:
Recent conversations with Brighton and Hove head-teachers confirm that the funding situation is far from stable and while so far no Brighton and Hove school has had to take the drastic action some schools in Birmingham had to take and reduce the school week to 4.5 days a week, B&H heads confirm that that option is not off the table.
Schools have already taken tough decisions – such as here at Queens Park where the nursery had to be closed for the school to survive – but that doesn’t mean that the pressure is off. They are just about “functioning” due to the tremendous dedication and goodwill of their teachers and staff. Many heads believe that the impact of the funding cuts will be seen in years to come with mental health issues on the rise and more and more disillusioned teachers leaving the profession altogether.
The government’s funding cuts are especially hitting support for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). The SEND National Crisis campaign wants the government to better meet the needs of SEND pupils and bridge the estimated £1.2 billion shortfall in high needs funding in England that has opened up since 2015.
The group has delivered a petition calling for action to tackle a crisis in SEND provision, in the hope it will push the issue into the spotlight ahead of the government’s spending review later this year. SOS wholeheartedly supported their recent national day of action with the Brighton and Hove event taking place on The Level. Join the SEND National Crisis Facebook Page if you’d like more info.
The Department of Education might have softened its tone regarding funding with a promise that the next spending review will bring some relief. Tireless campaigning by teachers, heads and parents alike is finally having an effect, but it is hard to believe that the promised funding will be more than the sticking plasters pledged in the past. Our kids deserve better and we must keep up the pressure.
Here’s what we are up to in the coming weeks:
Give Me 5 – July 5
Give Me 5 is a nationwide protest on Friday, July 5th against schools having to move to 4.5 days because they can’t afford to stay open for a full week. Children from all over the country are coming to London where MPs will provide childcare and educational activities. Meanwhile, you will see local and social media actions on the theme of “Give Me 5”: Give me five things schools do on a Friday afternoon! Give Me 5 reasons why schools should not close on Friday afternoon! Etc. – You get the gist.
(Here at Queens Park we are celebrating our popular summer festival on the 5th July and I look forward to seeing lots of kids coming up with creative “Give Me 5’s” at the SOS stall. We will also have a badge making machine with lots of fun SOS designs to work with.)
How can you get involved?
· Join us at Westminster if you can! Get in touch with xx from SOS to arrange logistics
· Check out our social media feed for action and join in as you can:
o Share and like widely
o In my school (Queens Park) our children will be chalking their “Give Me 5’s” on the playground. Organise some action with your kids and post it on #?!
Let’s make sure our voices are heard loud and clear.
The government’s academies programme has resulted in the fragmentation of the education system while undermining the local accountability of schools.
We oppose schools being turned into academies because:
We prefer teachers in schools to be qualified – academies can and do employ unqualified teaching staff
We prefer children to be in schools not excluded from them – academies have higher rates of exclusion than locally managed schools, often excluding children to push up their results
We prefer schools to be accountable to local people- once a school becomes an academy they answer only to the Department for Education, which has proved utterly incapable of managing them effectively
Parents and teachers are increasingly resisting academisation moves, such as the recent attempt to turn Telscombe Cliffs and Peacehaven Heights Primary School into academies. Campaigners were celebrating after governors decided they should remain under the control of their local authority. SOS supported their action against the move, and we are delighted that the right decisions has been made.
Meanwhile, Moulsecombe Primary’s recent Ofsted grading to “inadequate” will automatically expose the school to potential academisation. The school is the beating heart of the local community and they will have our support over the next few months.
High Stakes Testing
Our system is obsessed with league tables, turning children into data points and denying them a broad, stimulating education at key stages in their development. It puts an unnecessary burden on children, parents and teachers alike.
More Than a Score, a coalition of organisations and individuals connected to primary education including parents’ groups such as SOS, academics, trade unions and subject associations believes there is another way and is working together to call for change in the government’s over-testing regime.
Our “March of the 4-Year Olds” saw 250 children march towards Downing Street earlier this year, handing over a petition demanding a halt to the government’s plans to test 4 year-olds when they start school. Look out for further action as SATs results will be released in July and check out the More Than A Score website to see how you can get involved!
I know we’ve been quiet, but as you can see, a lot has been happening as we continue to fight for our children’s future. Please do get in touch if you’d like to get involved and keep checking our social media feeds for more regular updates.
Happy last term!
Ingrid Laycock & the SOS Team
Facebook: Save Our Schools