'What would you cut?' Schools challenge MPs over funding squeeze

Twitter campaign comes ahead of chancellor's budget

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Schools have been tweeting MPs photos of science experiments, music events, technology workshops and school trips to highlight the funding squeeze they face.

The #whatwouldyoucut campaign on Twitter was launched last night by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), with the support of the National Union of Teachers.

Just a handful of the outstanding artwork and photographs created by our students #whatwouldyoucut @hmtreasury @NickGibbMP pic.twitter.com/3du2OBglYk

— Alsager Student LT (@A6StudentLT) March 6, 2017

It aims to show politicians and the public the “impossible choices” they must make to save a total of £3 billion from their budgets by 2020.

Linslade School in Leighton Buzzard tweeted photos of sporting opportunities, Trinity High School in Redditch tweeted photos of its 2016 Christmas concert, while Caldew School in Carlisle tweeted a photo of a GCSE revision class to the Treasury and local MP John Stevenson.

Staff? #whatwouldyoucut @HenrySmithMP @hmtreasury pic.twitter.com/aPUbfTGuFK

— St Wilfrid's School (@StWilfridSchool) March 5, 2017

It comes ahead of chancellor Philip Hammond's budget on Wednesday, which he has already announced will include more money for technical education.

MPs across the major parties have raised concerns about school funding, including a number of Conservative backbenchers whose constituencies include a number of schools set to lose out under the proposed national funding formula. 

Students taking part in Inter House Cross Country #WhatWouldYouCut @hmtreasury @edwardtimpson https://t.co/rFByV43Rpm pic.twitter.com/QTl8ZGFEA4

— Brine Leas School (@BrineLeas) March 5, 2017

The idea for #whatwouldyoucut came from a group of headteachers in Cheshire East, which is one of the worst-funded areas in England for school funding, and which is set to lose out even more under the government’s proposed new formula. 

ASCL said the aims of the campaign are to:

  • make a positive statement about the great work done by schools and colleges, and how this is being put in jeopardy by the funding crisis;
  • raise public awareness of the funding crisis in education;
  • focus attention on funding as part of its long-term campaign for more investment in the education system.

Drama & music work #WhatWouldYouCut @hmtreasury @KateGreenSU @MusicInTrafford pic.twitter.com/9DPxjb14w2

— Flixton Girls School (@FlixtonGS) March 5, 2017

Malcolm Trobe, ASCL interim general secretary, said: “This campaign shows what is at stake as a result of the education funding crisis. School leaders have to reduce their budgets significantly. Smaller budgets mean fewer staff and this impacts on every area of school activity. What would you cut? School concerts? Educational trips? GCSE courses? Mental health support? Sports events?

“Young people need and deserve the rounded education, opportunities and support that schools provide. School leaders will do their absolute best to protect this provision but they face an impossible choice. The life chances of young people are being put risk.”

A Department for Education spokesman said school funding is at its highest level on record, and the government is "protecting per pupil funding so where pupil numbers rise, the amount of money schools receive will increase".

She said the proposed national funding formula would end the "historic postcode lottery" in school fuding, and more than half of schools would receive a cash boost in 2018-19, and it wanted to hear from as many schools, governors, councils and parents as possible before the consultation ends on March 22.

She added: “Funding every child fairly and according to their specific needs sits at the heart of delivering the government’s pledge to build a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. We recognise that schools are facing cost pressures, which is why we will continue to provide advice and support to help them use their funding in cost effective ways, including improving the way they buy goods and services, so‎ they get the best possible value for their pupils.”

Will we be able to keep up with the latest technology? #WhatWouldYouCut @hmtreasury @edwardtimpson @FairFundCheshE pic.twitter.com/kh7fpcf6VH

— Leighton Academy (@LeightonAcademy) March 5, 2017


Helping to inspire some of our future Olympians? Keeping students healthy through a love of sport. #whatwouldyoucut pic.twitter.com/KaQnQAPiB1

— Harrogate Grammar (@HarrogateGS) March 6, 2017

Staff give up lunchtimes to organise fair trade smoothies & baking with eco team @FairtradeUKEd @hmtreasury @DesmondSwayne #WhatWouldYouCut pic.twitter.com/ppeOddHQ9A

— Priestlands School (@PriestlandsSch) March 5, 2017


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