Glue donations and staff losses stressed on Hitchin school funding action day
PUBLISHED: 13:25 16 July 2018 | UPDATED: 13:25 16 July 2018
Activists stacked donated toilet rolls high in Hitchin town centre on Saturday to highlight the real-terms funding squeeze faced by schools.
The Hitchin Parents Against School Cuts campaign requested donations of toilet rolls to go to the town’s schools after hearing a Maidenhead school had resorted to asking parents for loo paper.
They gathered some 250 toilet rolls, as well as 300 signatures for a petition calling for Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami and the government to bring this issue further up the agenda.
“We were overwhelmed by the level of support from members of the public, local businesses and especially from members of our action group who turned out in force to support the action day,” campaign co-founder Kay Tart told the Comet.
“We spoke to hundreds of people in the town square – many of whom were unaware of the government cuts to the education budget, and were horrified.
“We also spoke to many people who were only too familiar with the impact that these cuts are having in our local schools now.
“One teacher told us that her school had lost seven teaching assistants, none of whom could be replaced. Another told us that their school was asking for donations of glue sticks.
“We asked members of the public to donate toilet rolls that we could share among our schools in Hitchin and as a visual representation of the amount of money that Hitchin schools are losing this year – a staggering £1.4 million.”
Kay added that the toilet roll demonstration had prompted similar action days in other parts of the country.
The Hitchin campaign’s swift growth during the past month has inspired the formation of a new Stevenage Parents Against School Cuts partner campaign.
Kay said they were considering holding a demonstration in Hitchin during September, ahead of an open meeting at Purwell School on October 3.
The Department for Education has told the Comet that by 2020 there will be 50 per cent more funding per pupil in real terms than in 2000, and that no school in Herts will attract less funding.
Earlier this month at Hitchin’s Priory School, Mr Afolami said the lack in some schools of basics like exercise books was not “indicative of funding levels”.
Priory head Geraint Edwards said he wanted Mr Afolami to “push for fair funding that takes into consideration the inflationary costs that we’re all facing”.