The Save Our Schools campaign was ramped up a notch on Friday with a demonstration attended by dozens of parents and children.
Worthing Beach was filled with campaigners who took advantage of the glorious weather – but they said there was a serious message behind the friendly protest.
The parent-led group organised the event to highlight the impact of alleged funding cuts on schools to coincide with a day of action by the national Fair Funding For All Schools campaign.
Save Our Schools co-founder Melissa Pickett said: “We are coming together to say: we value our schools, we value our teachers, we value our children, and these savage cuts are going to affect every pupil in every class in every state school.”
West Sussex County Council under leader Louise Goldsmith and West Sussex MPs have been leading a campaign to secure fairer funding for West Sussex schools. Peter Bottomley, Conservative parliamentary candidate, said the national schools’ funding formula ‘has for years been impossibly mean for West Sussex’ and added: “The underlying problem has been the absence of a sensible floor to funding.”
Mum-of-two Onay Faiz, from St Michael’s Road, West Worthing, recently joined the Save Our Schools group after seeing the effects of the cuts first-hand on her children.
She said: “I know an awful lot of teachers who are getting out of the profession; experienced teachers who are leaving because the demands being put on them are becoming much greater.”
Mum-of-three Katharine Archer from Heene Road, Worthing, is a former primary teacher. As well as her concern for her children’s education and the ‘immense pressure’ teachers are under, she feared cuts would mean less teaching assistants, forcing children with special educational needs to be taught outside of mainstream education.
She said: “Teaching assistants are absolutely essential in the classroom to support an inclusive society.
“Having that kind of segregation in our society is fundamentally wrong in my opinion.”
Dan Flanagan from Ripley Road, West Worthing, came to the beach with his son Nathaniel, five, who goes to Elm Grove Primary School in Elm Grove, Worthing.
He said his hope for his son’s education was ‘freedom of choice’: “It is about having the opportunities that we didn’t have and the fact that he isn’t a statistic, he is a human being.”
To join the group, visit the Save Our Schools West Sussex Facebook page.