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Thursday 1st
posted by Conrad Landin in Britain

And Burrowes’s supporters falsely tell parents protest cancelled

A TORY MP was branded “despicable” yesterday after he claimed schools would “gain” from funding cuts — and his supporters falsely told parents a protest was cancelled.

David Burrowes, who is re-standing as the Conservative candidate in Enfield Southgate, penned a letter to parents in his constituency saying concerns over cuts to school budgets could be “discarded” following promises made in the Tory manifesto.

The government claims its “fair funding formula” will lead to a more equal distribution of resources among English schools.

But the plan has been heavily criticised because it does not address increased costs that schools are meeting out of their existing budgets — and it will result in some schools facing severe cuts.

Concerns over potential cuts had prompted parents in Mr Burrowes’s north London constituency to organise a demonstration and picnic last Saturday.

But parents claim that Conservative activists handing out copies of the letter at school gates told them that the protest had been cancelled — when in fact it was still going ahead.

Hazelwood Junior School, which lies in Mr Burrowes’s constituency, will see its budget reduced by £160,983, according to the School Cuts website, which has been set up by a group of teaching unions.

Anthony Cole, whose son attends the school, said: “What upset me most was people handing out the letter last Thursday were telling people the march organised against the cuts had in fact been cancelled.

“That seems to me to be pretty despicable.”

Labour shadow education secretary Angela Rayner told the Star: “Tory candidates are clearly being reduced to desperate claims about school funding because the bare facts are so damning.

“The Institute for Fiscal Studies have made it clear that the Conservatives’ plans for school funding mean a 7 per cent cut to school budgets over the next parliament.”

National Union of Teachers general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “David Burrowes is not the first Conservative MP to fall for his own party’s spin.

“It is deeply irresponsible of him to spread this nonsense to parents. The £4 billion pledge is mainly money already committed for pupil numbers.

“Only £1bn is set against the £3bn real-term cuts and even that’s not new money — it’s thanks to cuts elsewhere in the education budget, mainly infant free school meals.

“Burrowes is as deluded as the Prime Minister if he thinks his party is offering anything like a solution to the school funding crisis.”

Mr Burrowes did not respond to the Star’s request for comment. Hazelwood Junior School could not be reached for comment due to the half-term break.

Headteachers’ Roundtable chair Stephen Tierney said: “The Conservative Party manifesto pledges £335 million per year ‘so that no school has its budget cut’.

“This isn’t a real-terms increase as the funding won’t be increased in line with inflation nor will it take account of the significantly increased national insurance and pension contributions schools have to pay.”