Yesterday in Parliament Anne Main MP made another impassioned speech on the topic of funding for schools. After an online petition on school funding reached over 100,000 signatures, a debate was held yesterday for MPs to speak on behalf of their constituents about this particular issue.
The St Albans MP continued her campaign for increased and fairer funding for our schools during the heavily oversubscribed debate.
Mrs Main held a debate herself on this very issue in October last year and has recently had an application granted for a six-hour debate in the Chamber on the need for an increase in funding for schools. Her application drew widespread support from MPs of all parties and was accepted by the Backbench Business Committee last month. The government will now allocate time in the Chamber for Anne’s debate to take place.
Speaking yesterday Mrs Main highlighted the strains schools are facing with ever-growing pupil numbers. The MP said she “accepts that more money has gone in, but if more people are invited to the party, rations have to be spread ever thinner. Many schools are spreading those rations beyond belief.”
Mrs Main also described the difficulty facing teachers in expensive property areas like her own constituency of St Albans. “Teachers are struggling to get on the housing ladder in areas as expensive as St Albans, where the average house price is £600,000. Recruiting members of staff is difficult; retaining members of staff is very difficult, as they find their money goes a lot further elsewhere.”
“I am worried that we will end up cutting the curriculum to the bone”, said Mrs Main. “There is simply no latitude in school budgets to pay for anything other than the bare necessities.”
Mrs Main continued to express her concerns on the pressure schools are under to continue to provide a varied curriculum. “When I was at school, I was passionate about art. Many young people are not academic but value those topics as much as anything; they inspire young people to go into school, and those teachers may inspire them and know how to deal with the complex needs of some youngsters who have been turned off by education.”
Following the debate Mrs Main spoke of her ‘frustration’ and ‘disappointment’ at the minister for schools response. Anne said, “I thought the debate was extremely worthwhile. We heard from MPs of all parties from across the country speaking of the difficulties and pressures their schools are under. Everyone had a very similar story.
“I really do think the government need to step up their support for our schools in a big way. If the government continue to recycle facts, without listening to the voice of so many teachers who see first-hand the pressures their schools are under, that would be extremely poor.
“I hope the government will find time soon for my six-hour debate on this matter. It is vital that MPs get a full day in the chamber of the House of Commons to speak on behalf of their teachers and we can hopefully see a major increase in support for schools very soon.”