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save our schools logohazelwood school flossing for fundingParents and kids get ready to Do the Floss!

Local parents and children took to the dance floor (more precisely, the playground) last week as part of a national protest against cuts to school funding. 

Pupils from Hazelwood Schools, St Monica’s, West Grove and St Michael at Bowes, along with their parents, all took part in the national Floss for Funding day of action, jointly organised by the independent parent-led Fair Funding for All Schools and Save Our Schools campaigns.  At Hazelwood Schools they were joined by Enfield Southgate MP Bambos Charalambous, as ever ready to risk losing his dignity to support a worthy cause (remember his pink outfit in support of a breast cancer charity?). His very special version of the Floss has been viewed over 39,000 times on Twitter (however, he's probably right to say that he needs a few more lessons from the kids).

bambos does the flossBambos does the Floss (click to see the  video)

Effects of the cuts

The campaigners point out that nationally the amount of funding schools receive per pupil has reduced by eight per cent since 2010. Across Enfield, 165 teachers and 93 teaching assistants were lost between October 2016 and October 2017. This is against a backdrop of rising pupil numbers, with 113 more children joining Enfield schools in the same time period.

Nationally cuts to school funding have led to:

  • Increased class sizes – with record numbers of pupils now taught in classes of over 30
  • Reductions in teaching and support staff – figures show that there are 66,000 more kids in state schools in England this year compared to last, yet compared to last year there are 10,800 fewer staff in our school – including over 5,000 fewer teachers, over 2,700 fewer teaching assistants and over 2,000 fewer support staff.
  • Less support for children and young people, including those with special educational needs or English as an additional language
  • A narrower curriculum
  • Cut-backs in essential resources and out-of-school-activities.
  • Increasing numbers of schools appealing to parents for regular cash donations to make up the shortfall.

DfE's “misrepresented” and “exaggerated” claims

The national day of action follows recent protests by headteachers, with more than 2,000 demonstrating outside Downing Street on 28 September and pupils and parents meeting MPs in Westminster on 10 October.

There has also been anger amongst campaigners about the misleading figures given by the Department for Education, who have been admonished four times by the UK Statistics Authority for their “misrepresented” and “exaggerated” claims. In a letter of 8 October 2018, the UK Statistics Authority stated that their claims on changes to school funding does not “help to promote trust and confidence in official data, and indeed risks undermining them.”

"Impossible choices"

Local parent Ruth Donaldson, who took part in the Hazelwood floss said, “Schools are having to make impossible choices because of the worst cuts in a generation. Some schools in Enfield are now closing at 1.30pm on a Friday afternoon, in a desperate effort to balance their budgets. Coupled with the loss of more and more teachers and teaching assistants from our classrooms, these cuts will have a devastating impact on our children’s futures. Education is the foundation of all our futures, and with Brexit on the horizon now should be the time to invest in our most valuable asset: our children.” 

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