Protests as fears early Friday closing could be coming to Norfolk schools due to budget cuts
PUBLISHED: 15:28 11 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:51 11 July 2019
Demonstrators took their protest about cuts in education to the doorstep of a Great Yarmouth school.
Waving placards reading "cuts hurt" and "speaking up for my school" they aimed to raise awareness about shoe-string budgets that were taking schools across Norfolk to the brink of a financial "abyss."
They stood outside St Nicholas Priory Primary School in the Market Place speaking to parents and passers-by about the budget cuts, equating to £209 per pupil over the last four years.
In reality, Nigel Beiley, Unison education officer for Norfolk, said it meant under-pressure teachers buying toilet rolls, staff taking on multiple roles for the same money, and general reduced provision which could affect pupils' life-chances.
Mr Beiley said the protest at St Nicholas - which saw borough councillors among those demonstrating - was the first of a planned wave of action from September to December.
"Together we need to be lobbying central government to get the resources that are needed.
"If we are told time and time again that austerity is over let that be seen at the chalk face," he said.
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Mike Smith-Clare whose borough and county council wards include St Nicholas warned schools would have to do "something radical" to keep going if the cuts continued.
Already they were having to make tough decisions about whether they could afford experienced or newly-qualified teachers, and could be forced to consider cutting the timetable and finishing early on a Friday, like 2,000 other schools across the UK, in their battle to make ends meet.
He said: "They feel they are moving to a tipping point that is pushing them into an abyss.
"In the next few years they will find it impossible to run their schools."
Early closing on a Friday was an option being taken up across the country, he warned.
James Wright, vice chair of governors at the town centre school said budget pressures meant they were charging more for lunches and could affect school trips.
He said the big push was focussed around getting eligible families to apply for free school meals.
Having a qualifying child meant an extra £1,300 for the school and work was being done to end any stigma and encourage local authorities to spread the word among families they came into contact with.