SCHOOL campaigners are back in full force after spending the summer plotting their next moves to fight education cuts.

The Save Our Schools (SOS) group was at Hertford Infant School in Hollingdean, Brighton, yesterday morning to show their support for teachers in the midst of an “education crisis”.

About 300 children, parents and teachers gathered on the playground and linked arms to express their bond with their school.

The parent-led group has dismissed Education Secretary Justine Greening’s claims of a new funding formula, saying it “does not solve” the crisis.

Nupur Verma, one of the co-founders of SOS, said: “There are three reasons why we are back campaigning.

“The first one is to raise awareness that the funding crisis has not gone away.

“The second is to put pressure on the Government to reverse the cuts they are making. And the final reason is to show how much respect and love we and our children have for the teachers and the job they do.”

SOS claims schools across the city will be deprived of £14 million over the next three years.

That figure breaks down to £193,425 per school and £487 per pupil by 2020.

Yesterday’s protest was a desperate plea for additional funds to be made available to the education sector in the next Budget, which will be presented next month by Chancellor Philip Hammond.

Ms Vurma believes that after the group’s latest protest, Miss Greening and Mr Hammond will finally listen to their cries.

“I do think more money will be made available,” she said.

Parents took photos and videos at the protest to post them to Miss Greening through social media and over email with the caption “Arms Around Our Schools”, while children voiced their support with a chorus of “save our schools”.

Other schools from across Brighton and Hove also took part in the Arms Around Our Schools demonstration, including Balfour Primary, Middle Street Primary School and Downs Junior in Ditchling Road.

However, Brighton was not the only city involved.

SOS has achieved a nationwide following and schools from as far as Manchester and the Isle of Wight linked arms to support their teachers yesterday.

The SOS campaign was launched in Brighton in March, and it has held numerous demonstrations including one at The Level in May.

Yesterday’s movement is the group’s first since July, when it delivered messages to Downing Street with Caroline Lucas, Peter Kyle and Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the MPs for Brighton and Hove’s three constituencies.


HERTFORD Infant School, like many others, is at breaking point because of a tight budget.

The Brighton school, which has an outstanding rating from Ofsted, is loved by its pupils and their parents but has been forced to work on a shoestring, meaning cuts to staff.

Teaching assistants now only work mornings, putting a strain on teachers in the afternoon.

Headteacher Zoe McGuigan told The Argus: “We are managing to cope but any additional cuts will push us over the edge.

“We cannot take any more.

“We are here to support the children and their wellbeing and mental health but this lack of funding makes it a lot harder to do our jobs.

“When I talk about mental health and wellbeing, though, I don’t just mean the children’s.

“This situation is now affecting our teachers’ health too. But, to stress, we are coping with the cuts at the moment.”

Ms McGuigan has built a rapport with her pupils and their parents, who feel the school is one of the best in Brighton and Hove.

However, she says that future cuts could put a halt to their progression.

She said: “It will mean children who are creative may not be able to express their creativity in classes any more.

“Any additional cuts would impact us greatly.”

Ms McGuigan’s school has about 180 pupils.

Michael Brooker, six, is one of the many who adore the school, which is in Hertford Road, Hollingdean, but his mother Melanie Jarvis is beginning to notice a difference.

She said: “It has been getting harder since he finished reception.

“The teachers need more support.”

The message to Education Secretary Justine Greening is to start listening to the Save Our Schools’ protests.

Ms Jarvis said: “The schools really need more money and teachers at Hertford deserve it.

“They are amazing and really deserve all of the credit.”

Miss Greening’s announcement of a new funding formula for education last month claims schools will be allocated minimum funding levels, which includes a £3,500 budget per pupil for primary schools around the country.

Her new plan, though, was met with scepticism and SOS dismissed it as “smoke and mirrors”.

Liz Vassilakes, a Hertford parent, is anxious about the educational future of her four-year-old daughter Aleka, who has just started at the infant school.

She said: “I am nervous because there could be problems for Aleka at the school now.

“It is worrying that we can’t even fund schools in the UK when we are one of the most well-developed countries in the world.

“There are significantly less developed countries who are keeping their schools running.

“Obviously I don’t know what to expect as Aleka has only just started at Hertford, so we’ll have to wait and see, but it is definitely worrying.”

Jo Wilding is a mother who feels the school is paramount to the community.

She said: “Hertford has such a huge percentage of high achievers.

“The school is doing amazingly well compared to what it was ten years ago.

“It is so good for the kids and really inclusive.

“The teachers support everyone, from the children with difficulties and the high flyers.

“More people are realising what a good school it is, too.”