Hitchin's Harry, 8, delivers 'school funding crisis' speech to MPs
PUBLISHED: 17:52 17 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:43 18 October 2018
An eight-year-old boy from Hitchin joined other campaigners on a trip to parliament, where he delivered a hard-hitting speech to MPs on the school funding “crisis”.
Year 4 pupil Harry Tart went to Westminster with other members of Hitchin & Harpenden Parents Against School Cuts – including mum Kay – and other campaign groups around the country for a special parliamentary briefing, organised by parent group Save our Schools and hosted by MP Jack Dromey.
Parents and children from Hitchin saw more than 60 parents and children from all over the country shared their stories about the impact of underfunding in their schools in front of 43 MPs, including the shadow education secretary Angela Rayner.
Harry – who also appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire Show that morning – gave a speech about parent contributions and PTA funds being used to prop up schools. He said: “Our computers are broken and breaking down, they don’t work properly and have a lot of problems connecting to the internet.
“Our play equipment is broken and my mum is working with other mums to raise as a much money as possible so that these things can be fixed – our school can’t afford to do it.
“Our school has lots of children who come from quite poor families and their parents can’t afford to send them to music and sports lessons because they’re really expensive, so they miss out, and so do I.”
Harry’s mum Kay – who is also co-founder of the Hitchin & Harpenden Parents Against School Cuts group – said: “From speaking to other parents and teachers we hear more and more that parents are being asked to make regular monthly donations and that funds raised by school PTAs are no longer being used to fund the icing on the cake, but increasingly the cake itself.”
Many of the MPs signed pledges on the day, Angela Rayner pledged to become education secretary so that “schools would be properly funded”.
That evening the campaign group hosted an open meeting at Hitchin’s Purwell Primary School where many of the same issues were discussed, with Priory School headteacher Geraint Edwards and Hitchin county councillor Judi Billing among those in attendance.
Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami was invited to attend both events, but was absent.
He told this paper: “I was speaking and voting in the 2nd Reading of the Agricultural Bill. As you are aware, the constituency is an important centre for farming.
“Members of Parliament are generally unable to deviate from their duties in Westminster from Monday mornings to Thursday evenings, inclusive. This organisation was given prior notice that I would not be able to attend this event when I held a meeting with them on September 14.
“I will always stand up for, meet and discuss school policy and funding with concerned parents, as I did when I hosted an event at the Priory School this summer at my instigation.
“I welcome any parent to write to me outlining their concerns with regards to education and I will get back in good time.”