About 2,000 headteachers marched on Downing Street today – twice the number expected – in a protest over school funding.
Some travelled six hours from Cumbria, while others flew in from Northern Ireland for what was a non-unionised event calling for a reversal of the real-terms cuts from the past eight years.
A petition was handed in at Downing Street, along with a letter to chancellor Philip Hammond, which highlights “rising costs, school budgets on the edge of viability and an inability to recruit and then afford adequate numbers of teaching and support staff”.
Headteacher Jules White, coordinator of the Worth Less? campaign, which organised the action, said school budgets had been cut by 8 per cent in real terms since 2010.
He said “After three years of relentlessly reasonable campaigning, we remain extremely concerned that we are unable to lead and serve our schools and local communities in the way that we all wish to.
“We are fundamentally hamstrung by an overall lack of funding, and a chronic shortage of teachers and support staff.
“Despite a newly introduced national funding formula, the Treasury and Department for Education has failed to meaningfully address these two crucial issues.”
Earlier this year, figures from the Education Policy Institute revealed that the number of secondary schools in England running at a loss had nearly trebled.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers' union, said: "It's a fantastic turnout and although it's supported by the unions, it's not arranged by them.
"This is an organic experience of school-leader frustration and anger."
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner has voiced support for the protest.
She said: "This unprecedented action by headteachers is a clear sign of the desperate struggle they now face to provide a decent education while balancing the books."