The Department for Education itself should be in special measures for the way it has handled school funding, according to Jess Phillips MP.
The Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley was speaking to several hundred campaigners gathered at Parliament Square this afternoon in protest over schools closing early on Friday afternoons due to lack of funding.
Ms Phillips, who son Danny‘s primary school in Birmingham is one of those closing early, said she was about to drop him off on the steps of 10 Downing Street.
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She told Tes: “Danny and his mates will sit down and do work outside Downing Street because their school is closed so they’re going to have to find somewhere else to do their education.”
Ms Phillips said she wasn’t concerned for her son’s safety in Downing Street because there were police guards, although she said prime minister Theresa May would be “at a disadvantage” if she had to look after him because he was “a handful”.
Teachers and parents from across the country were set to march on Downing Street in a protest organised by the Save Our Schools campaign.
School funding protest
The campaigners cite figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies showing an 8 per cent drop in schools' funding between 2010 and 2018, while at the same time DfE figures show 66,000 more children in state schools this year than last while teacher numbers are falling.
Ms Phillips told the crowd: “If Ofsted was inspecting the DfE, it would be in special measures.”
She said: "There hasn’t been a parent in the country who hasn’t been asked to put their hand in their pocket to fund books, computers or equipment in the playground.
“I was a kid in Thatcher’s Britain and there were 32 children in a class and we had to share a book between five of us, and we thought those days had gone, but they are back in now. Even Thatcher would not have dared to allow our children not to go to school five days a week.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said that in the event where a school decided to make changes to its school day or week, it was expected that it would "act reasonably" when making such decisions, giving parents notice and considering the impact, including on pupils, teachers and parents’ work commitments and childcare options.
The spokesperson added: “The funding for an average primary class of 28 in Birmingham is £125,000 – above the national average of £115,000 for an equivalent sized class. These amounts are to cover a full five-day week in term time.”