It is only looking back as an adult that it becomes clear just how much extra effort our teachers went through at school to help us not only succeed academically but develop and find ourselves as people. I don’t believe the teachers we have in the town today are any less capable or committed to the success of their children than the ones who taught me at Holy Trinity thirteen years ago, nonetheless we know that schools in Crawley are now struggling and that left unchanged the problems are only going to get worse.
During my time as a county councillor, the Labour Group pushed the case of local schools hard and even found money in the council’s budget which could have helped to plug some of the holes in local school funding. Unfortunately, in the highly partisan environment of the county council we were unable to find enough support across the chamber to offer the schools the funding and without a voice on the national level, there is only so far local council funding can be used to fill in the gaps.
At the last General Election, Crawley Labour Party challenged our MP Henry Smith, who was at the time a part of the Government’s education team, to ensure that local schools would get the funding they need to educate our children. Throughout the course of the election he repeatedly claimed that changes to the national funding formula would ensure that schools would indeed get the money they needed. Yet, when the new national funding formula was announced, low and behold the difference in funding wouldn’t even cover the increase in inflation.
While Mr Smith has chosen to attack teachers for highlighting their funding problems in the run up to the General Election, the reality is that for teachers to march on Downing Street isn’t a sign of schools becoming politicised but of the scale of the crisis now facing education in Crawley.
Every child needs a decent education, it is a fundamental part of belonging to a civilised society. To fail to do so is to deny a generation the opportunity to not only ensure that they earn enough to cover their costs of living but collectively the ability of the country to meet its collective needs. For that to be avoided we need a voice on the national level, one which understands not only the problem but the solution which is now needed, one ready to speak up on the issues which matter to the people of the town whatever the personal cost.