For Decades now School Budgets have been steadily Cut by Conservative-led Governments to a Point where this now Damages the Future.

January 2, 2022 12:10 PM
Originally published by West Hertfordshire Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrats and Labour have always valued public education to a greater degree than Conservatives, if only because the generally more wealthy Conservative mostly have access to an alternative system.

This system has greater resources per pupil, ready access to the professions and is over-represented in the intake to our better and more prestigious universities. Whilst not necessarily equiping the young people with the modern knowledge or with the practical or professional skills that the country needs to weather the present difficulties, it is rather more successful in endowing what it blatantly regards as the next generation of the ruling class, with immense confidence untroubled by conscience or sound judgement, and a strong sense of entitlement.

Thus it has been and thus they strive to ensure it will continue to be. Just look at the present cabinet!

And so when the remarkable spectacle of a protest by 7,000 headteachers arose in March 2019, two Liberal Democrat County Councillors made a public demonstration of their party's support.

Councillor Mark Watkin (Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Children, Young People & Families, Education, Libraries and who represents Nascot Park) and Cllr Anthony Rowlands (who represents St Albans East) proposed and seconded a supporting motion at the Council meeting in County Hall, as follows:

"This Council notes the recent action of over 7,000 headteachers across the country writing to millions of parents to express their dismay and concern that since 2010 school budgets have been reduced in real terms by 8% and by 20% at the post-16 level with the following impacts:

Class sizes are rising and the curricular offer is being restricted

  • ♦ Increasingly, schools are being asked to support with children's emotional health and well-being. Frequently they do not have adequate resource to meet this growing need.
  • ♦ Often the most vulnerable students - those from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) - are bearing the brunt of the cuts and schools are struggling to provide the level of support that they are entitled to.

This Council therefore requests its Leader to write to Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education, expressing our concern on the effect these cuts have had on the ability of schools to fund the breadth of curriculum required for their students and in particular the significant affect such reductions have hadin supporting children with Special Educational Needs and those with emotional health and wellbeing issues."

The motion was subject to some minor amendments by the Conservatives and passed by the Council. By the end of 2019, however, we had a General Election and Damian Hinds had moved on to be Minister of State for Security & Borders to be replaced by the hapless Gavin WIlliamson. It is a glimmer of hope, however, that Gavin Williamson has now gone, to be replaced by Nadhim Zahawi, who, though right wing, does have a reputation for competence and hardwork.

It remains of deep regret that the post of Secretary of State for Education does not have high status around the Cabinet table, though it is probably far more important to the happiness of children and parents and to the future of the country than most other ministries. The work of opposition politicians is never-ending!