Tory MPs target for campaign's budget ire

24th February 1995 at 00:00
Conservative MPs are being targeted in an emotive campaign by parents, teachers and governors over the threat of increased class sizes.

MPs who supported the Government in a Parliamentary vote earlier this month over local authority spending limits will be bombarded with telephone calls.

Members of the protest group FACE - Fight Against Cuts in Education - will demand: "Are you the MP who voted for bigger classes?" With a general election now no more than two years away and increasing anger over school budgets, FACE is pressing for maximum class sizes to be set.

Bob Jelley, head of St Giles Middle School in Exhall, Warwickshire, was one of the first to be involved in the campaign. He said: "This Government isn't going to win this one. By the summer it will have changed its mind."

The organisation now has 50 protest groups and is also arranging demonstrations.

"We are having to organise marches to give people the chance to burn off some of their anger," said Mr Jelley. "But we also have to convince Conservative MPs that this belief of theirs that greedy local authorities are keeping the money is just not true."

FACE, which emerged out of a protest meeting of 750 people in Warwickshire last month, has as its slogan: "Raise standards, not class sizes." It comprises parents, governors and teachers. Its chair is Sue Lister, an Oxfordshire governor, and its vice-chair is Mike Fredericks, a businessman from Rugby, Warwickshire.

It has three aims - to contest the continuing cuts in state education, to ensure proper funding for state education and to obtain a statutory definition and the implementation of minimum national standards.

"We are thinking long-term, not just short-term," said Mr Jelley, whose school budget stands to be cut by Pounds 28,000. "Most people involved in FACE have not been involved in battle before and they can feel pretty lonely. If we can show them that there are other people suffering similar problems around them, it should help."

Mrs Lister, chair of governors at Wesley Green middle school on the Blackbird Leys estate in Oxfordshire, added: "What is amazing is the complete political mix of people involved in this campaign. You have got every shade from Conservatives to the Socialist Workers' Party."

Wesley Green is now Pounds 64,000 down on what it was spending three years ago and could lose a further Pounds 40,000.

Bonfires and beacons will be lit by FACE groups on March 24 in protest at school cuts and a banner will be ceremonially handed over at every county boundary.

FACE can be contacted on: 0203 453832.

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