Cumbrian school campaigners call for Government to listen over cuts fury

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A protest rally in Carlisle City Centre highlighting the school funding crisis
A protest rally in Carlisle City Centre highlighting the school funding crisis

School campaigners are calling on the Government to listen to the public following the General Election and overturn controversial budget cuts.

The issue of school funding was among those that came up most on doorsteps across Cumbria during the campaign.

Two high-profile rallies in Carlisle and Penrith attracted hundreds of parents, teachers, pupils and support staff.

Headteachers across the county have also set out the steps they will have to take - such as reducing staff, increasing class sizes and cutting subjects - to make budgets balance.

Now teachers and parents are urging the county's MPs to take on board the concerns raised ahead of the election.

Carlisle mum Janice Bell, one of those behind the Carlisle demo, said: "It wasn't teachers, it was parents fighting for their children.

"I hope the Conservatives will sit up and take notice now, especially after the shock results in the election."

Marcelle Trojek, who has children at both Trinity and Robert Ferguson schools in Carlisle, added: "We don't just want an acknowledgement that the education cuts was a main issue on the doorstep in the run up to the election, we want to see something done."

Conservative Mr Stevenson, who was re-elected to represent Carlisle, said he has already set up meetings with headteachers in the coming weeks in response to the feedback from voters.

He said he did not think it was as simple as "throwing money" at schools, but he was keen to gain more understanding.

"One thing that did become apparent during the election is that there are issues regarding education and education funding," he said.

"I am starting to engage with teachers, to find out the issues they have."

But Graham Frost, head at Robert Ferguson School, said: "In the run up to the election, I was frustrated that school leaders’ concerns seemed to be dismissed by some candidates, but I am encouraged that all Cumbria's MPs are now acknowledging the seriousness of the dilemmas facing our schools."

Tory MP, Rory Stewart, reelected in Penrith and the Border, admitted that education funding was the main issue on the doorstep, but stressed that his party was investing £4bn in schools.

Clem Coady, head at Stoneraise Primary School at Carlisle, said that was still a real term cut.

He added: "Now the dust is slowly settling, I would like to see our local politicians engaging with schools to understand the real issues, and then to actively lobby Government ministers."

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