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NEU Conference ’19 Union leader calls on parents to mobilise against school funding cuts

National Education Union general secretary Kevin Courtney says the next election ‘will be fought on education’

PARENTS must mobilise against school funding cuts as the next election “will be fought on education,” the leader of Britain's biggest teaching union said yesterday.

The rallying cry came from National Education Union (NEU) joint general secretary Kevin Courtney in his keynote address on the final day of conference.

“School and college funding is an issue that will not go away for this government — and I want to thank everyone who has helped build parental engagement this year,” he said.

“No politician in this country can safely ignore the fact that three quarters of a million people changed their vote in the 2017 general election because of school funding.

“And so we want you to encourage parental campaigning in the run-up to the local elections, and to ramp it up even more than that if there is a general election.

“We don’t tell people who to vote for, but we do say: ‘Vote for education.’

“The government can keep repeating its lines about more funding than ever before — but what’s happening to class sizes will give the lie to that.”

Mr Courtney showed conference a series of slides showing a significant increase in the number of secondary schoolchildren in “super-sized” classes that he said would “enrage parents.”

“We are forecasting that we are about to pass a 40-year high in secondary class sizes,” he said.

“Astonishingly, we are about to see the number of secondary children in classes of 31 and above is about to pass the number in primary schools.”

NEU joint general secretary Mary Bousted, in her keynote address, praised Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for saying: “You are the professionals. You know your job. You know your students.”

Ms Bousted said: “It was amazing to hear this because it is so far from where we are now, under this government.

“It is our dysfunctional and toxic school accountability system which is poisoning our schools, the education professionals working in schools, and our children.

“And at the centre of this dysfunctional and toxic school accountability system is Ofsted.”

She urged Labour to follow the lead of the Greens and the Lib Dems in pledging to abolish Ofsted.

A Labour source told the Star that the austerity in education was one of the biggest concerns expressed by communities across the country, bigger than crime or Brexit.


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