Hundreds march over schools closing early on Fridays

Ms Phillips' son Image copyright Jonathan Brady
Image caption The son of MP Jess Phillips sat on the steps of Downing Street

Hundreds of parents and children have travelled to London to protest against schools closing early on a Friday.

A number of schools in England, but mainly in Birmingham, have taken the decision to move to a shorter working week because of funding shortages.

Campaign group Save Our Schools (SOS) said more than 300 people gathered in Westminster.

Mother Lisa Hubbard said she hoped the government had been listening.

Parents from Hitchin in Hertfordshire, Stockport in Greater Manchester, Brighton, Hove and Hastings in East Sussex, Leicester and Wiltshire joined other parents in London for the protest.

Image copyright Save Our Schools
Image caption Parents gathered in Parliament Square on Friday

Ms Hubbard, from Birmingham who took her son, said: "It's been amazing overall.

"It's been a great day, educational for the kids, learning about democracy, meeting MPs, learning to have a voice, I just hope the message got through.

"We will carry on until the children get the funds they deserve."

Kate Taylor, from (SOS), said across the country there were about 250 schools closing early on Fridays, with 27 in Birmingham.

The school Ms Phillips, the Labour MP for Yardley's son attends, is one of those shutting early from September.

"The schools haven't got enough money, for teaching assistants, support for vulnerable children - they haven't got enough money for pencils - and now they're having to close early on Friday afternoons...," Ms Taylor said.

Image copyright Save Our Schools
Image caption Children joined in the protest

The Department for Education (DfE) previously said it did not hold figures on how many schools had changed their hours.

A spokesman said: "We know schools face budgeting challenges and schools are being asked to do more.

"However, Birmingham receives per pupil funding significantly above the national average: in 2019-20, an average of £5,080 per pupil; well above the national average of £4,689.

"So we are also clear that schools in Birmingham should have no need to move to a shortened week for financial reasons."

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