Hundreds of people came out in Henley on Thames on Saturday morning to support the Together for Education march. The campaign believes that the government announcements made last week increasing funding in England over the next three years are welcome, but insufficient to bring funding back to pre-austerity levels. The Henley College joined forces with Gillotts Secondary School and Badgemore Primary School.
Councillor Michelle Thomas, one of the co-founders for the campaign opened her speech by saying,
“We’re here today to celebrate our pre-school, schools and our college. Henley is so proud of our teachers, teaching assistants and staff who work in them and of course our children who do their best year after year and find themselves excelling and of course parents who are so supportive of our teachers and their children’s education.”
John Howell, Henley MP said,
”It’s a great pleasure to see so many people who signed my petitions here today and the result of those petitions is that we have got what we asked for promised. I agree with your signs. It’s start but it’s not enough.
"I think it is absolutely disgraceful that parents are being asked to fund education and I think it is disgraceful that schools are asked to cut classes and to cut what they offer in order to fund the schools. I am proud that we are putting an extra £14 billion extra into schools which will be a great start to the process.”
Satwant Deol, Principal of The Henley College said,
“Every parent in this town wants the best possible education for their children. Every teacher wants the best possible education for their pupils and students. Every child in this town deserves the best education and opportunity we can provide.
"We appreciate and welcome the recent announcement of an extra £188 per student, for just one year, but this is just a drop in the ocean. The total per student next year will be just £4,188 for everything – to cover teaching, support, enrichment and work experience! Just £4,188 for everything.
"Nine years ago we received nearly £5,000 per student but now just a base rate of £4,000 and at the same time costs have risen significantly, and the needs of students have become more complex. We are expected to do much, much more for far less money.
"This under investment has not only risked the quality of education, but the health of our economy and opportunities for social mobility. The cuts have meant fighting to save French and Dance, but having to close German and Music.
"I would like you to ask yourself one simple question: what next? What do we drop next? What do we cut next? What do we reduce next? Our college and the schools of Henley stand together here because we want the best education and opportunities for our children. Every child and young person in this town deserves the very best education to flourish and thrive in a competitive global community.”