Rumal Khan, Labour candidate for Portsmouth North, shares his thoughts on the future of education in the city:
As a father of three children who have grown up in Portsmouth, I know the importance of a good education and the value of the schools who provide it. I am proud of what my two daughters and son are achieving and am grateful that they have had the chance to experience things through their education that are helping them get on in life. But I also know only too well that it is not like this for all children.
One in four of them are living in poverty in the UK right now. The total figure has soared by 400,000 since the Tories came to power. Source: the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Under the Tory Government the UK has fallen in global rankings for children’s rights from 11th. place to 156th. It is now amongst the bottom ten global performers in improving the rights of the child after achieving the lowest possible score across all six main indicators. Source: Kids Rights Index 2017 (data collected from Unicef & United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child)
The government is failing to protect vulnerable children, too many of whom are missing out on things they should be experiencing which could provide them with the chance of a better life as they grow up. For many life is grim and without much of what most children take for granted. Two thirds of them come from families where at least one parent is working, according to the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and Barnado’s. There is little evidence here of the government’s commitment to a ‘country that works for everyone.’
For some of these children, their school dinner is the only decent meal they get all day and Labour is determined they will not go without it. While the Tories plan to take free school meals away from infants, Labour will provide free school meals for all primary school children and will pay for this by introducing VAT on private school fees.
To ensure that they, and the rest of our children, get the opportunities they deserve Labour will also reverse the crippling cuts to schools. The Tories tell us they have put more into the schools’ budget, but that’s not how it’s looking to headteachers in Portsmouth and around the country. Right now, headteachers in the city are struggling with dwindling funds and over the next three years, a study by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and figures from the National Audit Office (NAO), show our city schools are set to lose over £8 million. That’s a sum equivalent to 216 teachers. The School Cuts site https://www.schoolcuts.org.uk/#!/ has examples of how such devastating cuts could affect schools across the country.
Here are just some examples of what potentially lies ahead for schools in Portsmouth North:
Budget cuts = per school per pupil equal to no. of teachers
Copnor Primary £166,394 £246 5
Isambard Brunel Junior £95,835 £362 3
Lyndhurst Junior £117,606 £241 3
Northern Parade Junior £115,430 £298 4
Trafalgar School £200,958 £413 5
Mayfield School £528,629 £442 14
These cuts will have a profound affect on our children and could lead inevitably to bigger class sizes, fewer teachers and support staff, less available materials and, as is already happening in other parts of the country, certain subjects being totally removed from the curriculum. All this, when an extra £320 million, earmarked in the budget, will be flowing into the government’s free school programme.
Labour wants a better deal for Portsmouth North’s schools. All our children deserve a brighter future. They should get the opportunity to have one.
As your Labour candidate, I will stand up for the schools in Portsmouth North. I will stand up for all our children.