It’s not something you see very often – a thousand headteachers on a demo’ march. You might see teachers, yes, but when heads take to the streets things have got to be really serious, haven’t they?
Headteacher Jules White (pictured), who is coordinator of the headteachers’ Worth Less? campaign answers our questions.
What’s this about?
JW: "This is an unprecedented event. Headteachers have campaigned reasonably and relentlessly for three years to get improved real terms funding, but matters are not improving."
What difference can this make other than to leave 1,000 schools without leadership for the day?
JW: "Headteachers are completely committed to their work and the students and families in our care. But when you reach a point where hundreds of heads feel that they have no choice but to campaign at Downing Street it's clear that all else has failed. Every head going is doing so with the support of their governing body or trust. Heads are not travelling from Cumbria and Cornwall for a 'day out'. We are fighting for our schools and a fair and adequate set of resources to do our jobs."
What is the straw that is breaking the camel’s back?
JW: "Heads and teachers are fed up with hearing from the DfE and government that everything is fine and 'more money than ever before is being spent on schools' – when the exact opposite is occurring. The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies stated that, in real terms, our budgets have shrunk by 8 per cent in the last eight years."
What are the heads demanding?
JW: "We want every school to be adequately funded, particularly the most vulnerable students. We don't have the resources to support youngsters with SEND and often pupil premium is being used to prop up core budgets. The public has to ask: do they believe headteachers or are we just making things up?"
On the day of action, Worth Less? will deliver a letter to chancellor Philip Hammond on behalf of headteachers in 50 local authority areas.
The letter, seen by Tes, makes specific demands, including that the government:
Funds all schools adequately and reverses the real terms cuts that have happened over the last eight years
Makes an immediate £400 million cash injection to support SEND and high needs
Meaningfully improves real term per pupil funding for the post-16 education sector