Children from Upper Beeding Primary sent a clear message to the powers that be in the fight for fairer school funding.
As governors from all over the county prepared for a ‘day of action’, the youngsters took to the playing field to spell out the word ‘help’.
On Friday (May 19), governors from dozens of schools will withdraw their services. Malcolm Gordon, spokesman for the Upper Beeding board, said: “This is the first time governors have taken action like this. I think it shows how passionately we feel about the funding crisis.
“Our job as governors is to help schools to give children the best possible start in life. We refuse to sit quietly by while their future is threatened.”
Other governors involved in the strike will be West Chiltington, The Weald, Tanbridge House and Shipley Primary. Those at Forest School will be withdrawing their services for a week to protest the financial pressures which they claim have been placed on their budgets.
MPs and the county council have vigorously supported the fight for fairer funding, with council leader Louise Goldsmith writing to the secretary of state for education Justine Greening to plead for more government support. In addition, MPs wrote to Ms Greening in the toughest terms warning her schools would lose hundreds of thousands of pounds if changes to the NFF were not made.
In a message to parents, Upper Beeding’s chairman of governors Neil Pringle and his team said the school was facing “a funding crisis”.
He added: “It is becoming increasingly difficult to find the money to give your child the best education, something we constantly strive for. What’s more, unless things change, it is only going to get worse.
“This year we have had to approve a cut back in the number of hours of support staff in the classroom. The work of teaching assistants is invaluable, helping children who need help and those who need greater challenge.
“I’m afraid that next year you will notice fewer support staff in class. The school is unable to update and replace ageing IT equipment which is frustrating for staff and children alike.
“We’re also having to significantly reduce the number of hours that a trained counsellor can spend with children who have special emotional needs.”
Governors at a couple of West Sussex schools have chosen alternative ways of showing their support for the campaign.
At Bishop Luffa, in Chichester, they plan to spend the day in the school to see how the funding shortage has affected things.
And at Imberhorne School, East Grinstead, governors will carry out “non-strategic” tasks at school.
Chairman Bob Darvill said the idea was to show that the only recourse left to schools was to use volunteers to keep things running as needed.
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