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From The Socialist newspaper, 20 March 2019

Cash-strapped schools now 'fourth emergency service': strike to fight the cuts

photo USDA/CC, photo USDA/CC

photo USDA/CC, photo USDA/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Jamie Elliot, school teacher and National Education Union rep

Increasing numbers of schools are having to provide clothing, laundry facilities and food parcels to their students due to a decade of austerity leaving many vulnerable children in poverty.

This damning indictment of Tory Britain comes from a recent survey of headteachers carried out by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL). School finances are already at breaking point, with ASCL conference warning of a 5.7 billion funding shortfall and further cuts to already-threadbare budgets.

The fact that schools now act as a 'fourth emergency service', at the same time as struggling to find the resources to educate our students, lays bare the cruelty of capitalist austerity and the desperate need for a socialist alternative.

Hungry

I have seen the impact of austerity first-hand at my academy, where I have been both a teacher and a pastoral leader. My school is in a highly deprived area of Bradford, and it is all too common to see students come into school hungry, wearing ripped and unwashed uniforms.

We provide a free breakfast to all students, and a free hot meal at lunch to those classed as 'disadvantaged'. I worry about our students during the school holidays - are they able to get a decent meal?

Bradford Labour's local cuts have also left council services in a desperate state. It is nearly impossible to get access to mental health support for our students, and I know of many who are going back to unstable and possibly dangerous households because the cuts-making council does not deem their situation 'serious' enough to get support.

This story is not unique to Bradford. With child poverty predicted to reach a historic high of 37% by 2022 according to the Resolution Foundation, this will become the new normal for the working class in Britain.

Strike action by school unions is essential if we want to reverse these cuts and win proper funding for our schools. The recent strike at Valentine Primary School in Southampton is an inspiration for teachers and students nationally.

But individual schools should not be left to fight alone. We need a national strategy, linked with trade union action against austerity in every sector. This could also force the general election we badly need.

And unions should demand that Labour councillors pass no-cuts budgets using reserves and borrowing, while mobilising workers and communities to fight for full funding from the government.

To secure a decent future for young people, we need to fight for the socialist transformation of society. Where wealth is no longer in the hands of the 1%, and workers and students can democratically plan resources to guarantee the wellbeing and education of young people, rather than profits for the super-rich.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 20 March 2019:


What we think

May's government facing endgame


News

End austerity. Fight for a living wage!

New Zealand mosque terror atrocity

Top unis threaten cuts if tuition fees

Cash-strapped schools now 'fourth emergency service'


Climate walkouts

Youth strikes show the way - mass action can oust Tories

Massive protests over catastrophic climate change


Workplace news

Victory for Birmingham bin workers

PCS civil servants' union: Vote Yes to strike for better pay

Midlands machine bearing makers launch all-out strike

Hackney school bus workers walk out


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Socialist Party's Sue Atkins wins big support for anti-cuts, socialist policies

Union fightback key to movement against racism and austerity

Trade unionists debate the EU

Socialist Party Northern conference: Workers are sick of cuts and have the power to fight back

Stop cuts to women's services in Leicester

Help build the workers' press: send May Day greetings to the Socialist!


International socialist news and analysis

Spanish state: Historic 8 March action


Opinion

Exhibition: Don McCullin - a life in pictures

The Socialist Inbox

Theatre: Banner Theatre's Nottingham 'Free for All'


 

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Related links:

Cuts:

triangleCouncil finance disaster: set emergency no-cuts budgets and fight for funds!

triangleStrong union response needed against job cuts

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triangleThe Tyneside apprentices' strike during WW2

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Schools:

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School:

triangleEerily quiet before second wave - don't reopen schools!

Bradford:

triangleBradford Socialist Party: Trotskyism and the Second World War

National Education Union:

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