Placard-wielding Haringey families protest against funding cuts at Highgate Wood and Alexandra Park
PUBLISHED: 13:18 30 May 2017 | UPDATED: 13:13 31 May 2017
Placard-wielding families have ramped up the pressure on campaigning politicians with a series of protests across Haringey’s parks.
The ‘picnic protests’ saw hundreds of teachers, parents and kids descending on parks – including Highgate Wood and Alexandra Park – as part of the nationwide campaign dubbed ‘the big assembly’ on Friday, May 26.
With schools breaking up for half term on the same day, the afternoon was seen as one of the last opportunities to rally against education cuts in the run up to the General Election on June 8.
Under the Conservative government’s current national funding formula, Haringey’s schools are facing cuts of £24.4 million by 2019/20, the equivalent of £743 less being spent on pupils by the same period.
This has led to widespread fears that class sizes will increase, support teachers will be cut and specialised subjects could be phased out as schools look to balance the books.
Jo Yurky, who has two children at Rhodes Avenue Primary School and co-founded the Fair Funding for All Schools campaign, said: “As a result of the brilliant campaigning by parents across the country, all parties now accept the need for more school funding.
“We’ve seen major concessions in the party manifestos but, sadly, not all of them go far enough.
“At the very least, we need pupil funding to be protected in real terms over the next five years.
“Anything that falls short of that is unacceptable. So parents used Friday’s park protests in Haringey and beyond to keep the pressure up and make our voices heard.
"As a result of the brilliant campaigning by parents across the country, all parties now accept the need for more school funding"
“We want fair and proper funding for all our schools.”
A Camden ‘big assembly’ – scheduled to take place in Talacre Gardens on Tuesday, May 23 – was cancelled in the wake of tragic events at Manchester Arena, which saw 22 people, including children, killed and dozens injured.
The borough’s schools are facing cuts of £18.1 million by 2019, which is equivalent to £952 less being spent on each child.
Gerald Clark, who is secretary of the Camden NUT, said: “Already headteachers are saying that they cannot cope with the current levels of funding.
“It is vital that all candidates standing in the General Election for Camden promise to increase school funding.
“Failure to do so will see our schools continue to be desperately under resourced, teacher posts cut and drastic measures, such as closing schools earlier, may be considered.
“Parents and children in Camden deserve better and our politicians should be standing with us in demanding investment in our schools.”