Journal column - 8/5/19

If school days are the best days of our life then why is the Government cheapening them?

Theresa May running through a wheat field isn't the naughtiest thing she's done when slashing spending on our schools is recklessly indecent.

Talk to any parent, classroom assistant, teacher, head, governor, caretaker, cleaner, dinner lady or anybody except the Prime Minister, and her equally deluded Education Secretary, and they'll tell you the cuts are beginning to bite.

I've huge admiration for school staff buying books for pupils with their own money and parents raising cash to pay for basics but it shouldn't be happening.

No wonder primaries and secondaries across the North East are struggling to make ends meet when Schools North East data shows that compared to 2015-16, the funding for this financial year is down an average of £30,904 per primary school and £189,776 in secondaries.

Tot up the reduction nationally and a Tory Government which doesn't value education for the overwhelming majority has scythed school spending £1.7-billion in real terms in a little under five years.

There's a good argument for counting education as investment rather than spending when every pound put into the young will reap huge dividends in the future when they're generating the cash and the taxes to look after us oldies.

So May and her austerity mob are short-changing us as well as the young when they turn the financial screw on schools, revalidating Oscar Wilde's view of a cynic as a person who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Conservatives know fine well what they're doing behind the statistical smokescreen of parroted propaganda about rising resources when they see the sums too recording a drop per pupil.

I take my hat off to teachers and everybody else working hard to sustain and improve standards when the job is getting harder.

Let's never forget the Tories left our education system with leaky roofs in 1997 and Labour did fix them when the sun was shining before 2010. 

Over the past nine years, however, the Conservatives have continued their neglect once again.

I'm proud Labour recruited 42,000 extra teachers plus 123,000 teaching assistants so it breaks my heart we're going backwards.

We deserve an education system in which every child matters and those who, for whatever reason, never fulfil potential or pursue their dreams in school days are given fresh chances.

Equally the mistreatment of Further Education as a Cinderella never allowed to go to the ball smacks of class snobbery and for too long too much of the debate's focused on Universities at the price of other options.

We need a fundamental revitalisation of the entire sectors and that's exactly what Labour’s National Education Service proposal would deliver.

The Tories have broken promise after promise to properly fund our schools and they'll keep doing it, the choice of austerity in the political DNA of a party obsessively shrinking the public sphere.

If there was an Ofsted for politics, the Tories would fail their inspection and be in special measures.


Meet your MP


Stephen Hepburn has served the Jarrow Constituency as MP since 1997.

He was last elected to serve in June 2017 and won the seat with a conclusive 17,263 majority.

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