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From Craven Herald, September 28th, 2018
Written by Jim Jack

WHARFEDALE politicians have voiced support for headteachers who joined a national protest. Hundreds of heads from across England and Wales attended a rally in central London on Friday, September 28, to demand extra funding. Calling for an end to what they described as 'crippling cuts', they met in Parliament Square before delivering a letter to Downing Street. The heads say a real term fall in funding of eight per cent since 2010 - a figure provided by the the Institute of Fiscal Studies - has left schools struggling with bigger class sizes, staff cuts and reduced subject choices.

The Government, however, claims that a new funding formula will deliver more money to schools - and that funding is due to rise to a record £43.5bn by 2020.

MP Alex Sobel (Lab, Leeds North West) backed the teachers' position.

He said: "Per pupil spending doubled between 1997 and 2010 but spending was cut from the day the Lib Dem/Tory Coalition came to power.

"Since 2010 real terms spending has been cut by eight per cent resulting in classes of well over 30 and fewer teaching staff, whilst our buildings are crumbling.

"It's time those who have been in power over the last eight years apologise to our children and reverse the cuts.

"If Labour were in Government we would introduce a fairer funding formula that leaves no school worse off, while redressing the historical underfunding of schools."

The Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for the constituency, Kamran Hussain, meanwhile said the headteachers had been 'rightly protesting at cuts to school budgets'.

He added: "Across Leeds and beyond headteachers are on the front line, trying to manage funding cuts and swelling class sizes every day.

"They have every right to speak out about the devastating toll this is taking on the quality of education in their schools.

The Tory Government have ignored countless warnings that schools are cutting staff numbers, dropping subjects from the curriculum and even asking parents to chip in with donations to make ends meet.

"It has to stop.

"The Liberal Democrats demand better. We wholeheartedly support the headteachers in their protest and it is vital that this time the Government finally listens and puts an end to these crippling cuts."

Ilkley's MP John Grogan (Lab, Keighley) also backed the demonstration.

He said: "Schools in Wharfedale, like others around the country, are struggling to make ends meet.

"After the General Election in 2017 a petition was started by parents in Ilkley against further cuts.

"The Chancellor did put some additional funding into schools in the budget of November, 2017 because of pressure from parents and teachers across the country.

"This did not take into account, though, the increase in pupil numbers or inflationary pressures.

"I have invited Mike Kane MP, Labour's Shadow Schools Minister, to visit the area on November 15 to meet headteachers in Wharfedale to discuss their experiences and the local situation."