Tories are cheating our young of opportunities - Stephen Hepburn MP

Tick-tock, tick-tock, the clock’s ticking towards the end of the school summer holidays.

Tuesday, 20th August 2019, 9:27 am
Updated Friday, 30th August 2019, 5:01 pm
Conservative austerity measures have "clobbered schools".

I don’t want to sound like a Doomsday Clock counting down the end of the break, particularly when I used to love the long hols.

And parents love their children. Most of the time, anyway. That’s a joke, by the way.

But after six weeks of having them under their feet all day long, it’s easy to see why mams and dads need a break themselves, so schools returning isn’t all bad.

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The cost of clothes and uniforms is a burden, however, for hard-up families, so I’m proud to back the campaign of my teacher Labour colleague in Hull, Emma Hardy, who is battling for prices to be affordable.

The Tory austerity which clobbered schools, reducing classroom budgets as well as the wage packets of teachers and assistants, is also felt in most Tyneside homes after the longest pay squeeze since Wellington beat Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.

Talk to any parent, teacher, head, cleaner or secretary and they’ll give you chapter and verse on the struggles our schools face.

No wonder primaries and secondaries across the North East are hurting when, compared to 2015-16, funding for this financial year is down an average of £30,904 per primary school and £189,776 in secondaries.

Rewind on South Tyneside to 2013/14 when the Tories really put on the bite and the reduction per pupil is between 6% and 6.5%.

That’s nearly 7p in every £1 cut or, look at it another way, for every 100 children in a school the head now isn’t given the money to teach seven of them.

And the outlook nationally makes similar grim reading as a cynical Conservative Government has slashed school spending £1.7 billion in real terms in a little under five years.

During his desperate election campaign, privately-educated Boris Johnson admitted the Tories’ cuts to our schools were wrong. Yet deeds tell us more than words.

This Tory PM backed these education cuts time and time again at the Cabinet table and on the backbenches.

This Tory PM has never acted in the national interest and always prioritises his future, not the future of our country or our children.

I take my hat off to teachers and everybody else working hard to sustain and improve standards when the job is getting harder.

I will never forget the Tories left our education system with leaky roofs and crumbling buildings in 1997 before Labour rebuilt schools and recruited 42,000 extra teachers plus 123,000 teaching assistants.

It breaks my heart to see the Tory dunces taking our education system backwards once again, cheating every child of opportunities while often looking after their own by sending them to fee-charging colleges of privilege.

Johnson wouldn’t recognise social justice if it was written on a board for him.