West Sussex schools campaigners rally over funding cuts

Public meeting
Image caption Campaigners said schools needed basic equipment and basic levels of staff

Hundreds of parents in West Sussex have rallied at a public meeting to campaign against school funding cuts.

More than 300 parents, teachers and campaigners gathered in Worthing to call for a protected education budget.

The National Union of Teachers said cuts would have "a devastating impact".

In April the government said school funding was at its highest ever level. The Tories said schools had been given "record funding", but Labour said the party could not hide the cuts.

Save Our Schools (SOS) West Sussex, which organised Saturday's meeting, said current funding arrangements translated to a reduction of 6.5% funding per pupil by 2019.

Last month, head teachers from 14 local council areas, including West Sussex, wrote to MPs to say a new national funding formula, which should give underfunded schools more cash, ignored inflationary cost pressures faced by all schools.

Image caption Parent-led Save Our Schools now has nearly 2,000 members
Image caption Campaigners fear bigger class sizes, fewer staff and a lack of basic equipment

SOS spokeswoman Mel Pickett said: "We're seeing huge cuts. In West Sussex alone, it's the equivalent of 944 teaching posts."

Philippa Harvey, from the NUT union, said: "We know that over 98% of schools are going to be affected by the funding cuts. And that's going to have a devastating impact."

A Labour Party spokesman said: "Theresa May can try to distract the public with grammar schools all she likes, but she cannot hide from the fact that her government is cutting school budgets."

The Conservatives said it had put "more funding than ever" into schools.

'We are supporting schools to help them use that record funding in cost-effective ways, and we have consulted on a National Funding Formula to end the unfair post code lottery so pupils with similar needs attract the same level of funding to their school," a spokesman said.

"The choice at the election is clear: it is a choice between Theresa May providing the strong and stable leadership we need for Brexit and beyond to keep on improving schools, or a coalition of chaos and instability led by Jeremy Corbyn, putting our economy and funding for schools at risk."

The Lib Dems said they would protect school funding.

A spokesman said: "The Conservatives must re-think their deeply flawed funding formula, which would see savage cuts to schools across West Sussex. Their proposals are utterly cynical, taking with one hand and giving with the other."

Green Party and UKIP have not yet commented to the BBC.

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