MP to leave son at No 10 in protest over school cuts

Jess Phillips will join hundreds of parents whose children's schools close early on Fridays in a march on Downing Street

sharing their favourite things to do at school on a Friday afternoon and sending messages to the Department for Education using the hashtag #GiveMe5

MP Jess Phillips will leave her 10-year-old son on the steps of No 10 this Friday afternoon in protest over cuts to schools funding that have forced his school to close on Friday afternoons.

Ms Phillips, Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, will join hundreds of parents from across the country in a march on Downing Street over cuts that, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, amount to an 8 per cent drop between 2010 and 2018.

“The government has failed in the most basic job it has: to provide schooling for all of our children five days a week," she said. "We intend to show them that we will not take this.”

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More than 50 other schools across the country are now said to be closing early on Fridays because of funding cuts, but there may be hundreds more when the new term begins, say campaigners from parents' group Save Our Schools, which is organising the event.

The group says it wants to highlight the “hypocrisy” of the Department for Education insisting children must attend school five days a week – with the potential sanction of fines for unauthorised absence – while leaving schools with no choice other than to reduce the school week with an accumulated loss of up to 20 full school days per year.

Give children 'the education they deserve'

Campaigner Kate Taylor said: “If we were to remove our children for one Friday afternoon, let alone every Friday afternoon, we would be committing a criminal offence. It’s quite simple: we want our children to be in school receiving the education they deserve

“Parents, teachers and pupils are living with the effects of a government that is not interested in investing in their education.

“Every day, children are taught in crumbling buildings; subjects such as art and music are disappearing from the curriculum; pupils with special educational needs are losing vital support, and dedicated teaching staff are losing their jobs.

Protestors will travel to Westminster from Birmingham, Brighton, Hove, Hitchin, Wiltshire, Stockport, Hastings and Leicester to join London parents.

The campaign, called “Give Me 5” to reflect that schools should stay open all five days a week, will be tweeting with the hashtag #giveme5 on Friday.

Save Our Schools campaigners point out that many schools have already reduced the number of teachers and support staff including teaching assistants, while some have cut arts and music programmes, and some have reduced essential support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Campaigners also cite figures from the DfE that show there are 66,000 more children in state schools this year than last while teacher numbers are falling.

Ms Phillips' son Danny will be with other children outside Number 10 on Friday in a "symbolic gesture" with parents "not far away," said a spokesperson for the MP. 

The DfE has been contacted for a comment.

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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