A Government survey has revealed that 100,000 children under the age of 5 have never practised learning at home with their parents. The Department for Education poll of parents with children aged 5 or younger found almost a third (31 per cent) of their children did not read with someone at home daily. Only around half spent time learning the alphabet or recognising words (51 per cent), counting or learning numbers (58 per cent), or learning songs, poems or nursery rhymes (59 per cent) daily.
The Tory cuts have meant that funding for Sure Start has collapsed. Over a thousand children’s centres have been lost and hundreds of libraries have closed. Despite the Prime Minister’s promises, austerity isn’t over for our children and those who most need extra support have been most likely to lose it.
It’s critical for both our children’s future and the future of the country that the Government provides sustainable funding for councils to provide libraries and children’s services. Labour is committed to reinvesting in Sure Start to revolutionise the support that we give families and children in the early years – doing so makes a significant difference to our children’s long term outcomes.
In the last few weeks I have been asking the head teachers of schools in my area to take part in a survey to discover the impact of the Government’s funding cuts. The findings so far are devastating.
Early responses indicate that due to Government slashing budgets, 80% of respondents have had to cut spending on books, equipment, SEN provision, teacher training and support, extra-curricular activities and cleaning and maintenance – as well as reductions to teaching staff.
The following is what some of the head teachers have told us:
“We have managed to avoid cuts to teaching staff through using our reserves but these run out in the next financial year and this will result in a devastating impact on school staffing and our ability to deliver the excellent education we currently do.”
“Training budgets reduced. Maintenance budgets at bare minimum.”
“No access to specialist teacher. TA hours halved. Monday there is no-one in the office. Resources are very low. 75% cuts to books and equipment. 100% in SEN provision. 50% cut to teacher training and support. Extra-curricular activities all funded by parents who are also struggling. No site supervisor. Resources very low.”
Across Lancashire 534 of 563 schools face budget cuts. According to an alliance of trade unions who have researched the impact of the cuts they reveal that schools in Lancashire have lost out on nearly £116 million of funding in the last four years – the equivalent of nearly £300 per pupil per year.
In addition more than 2,000 children in England with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are awaiting provision for their education. Surely our children deserve better?