Thursday 17 October 2019

'Thousands of kids' to sing Baby Shark outside UK government buildings in protest at school cuts

Jess Phillips
(Yui Mok/PA)
Jess Phillips (Yui Mok/PA)

Richard Vernalls

British MP Jess Phillips is crowd-funding to take "thousands of kids" to the UK Treasury and sing the Baby Shark song in protest at what she has claimed are education cuts forcing schools to "close early".

The Labour member for Birmingham Yardley said she was planning to fund a "huge campaign" day, taking youngsters to Westminster to the offices of the UK's Department for Education (DfE) and the Treasury, as well as Downing Street.

Mrs Phillips' webpage had already reached £6,800 (€7,900) of its £10,000 (€11,600) target on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after it first launched.

The DfE said under current funding, Birmingham schools should have "no need" to shorten school days "for financial reasons".

On the website, she said the Birmingham school her 10-year-old son Danny attends, was being "forced to close early on Fridays because the school can no longer afford to stay open for a full week thanks to government cuts to education".

Mrs Phillips added that her son's school could "no longer afford" to support disabled and special educational needs children, adding they "may have to leave" as a result.

Mrs Phillips added: "In Birmingham where I live there are 15 other schools in this position.

"Since I called this out, parents all over the country have been getting in touch to say that their kids are also being failed in this way.

"The Government has failed in the most basic job it has to provide schooling for all of our children five days a week.

"We intend to show them that we will not take this.

"Together with the Save Our Schools group, I am organising a huge campaign day where we will take thousands of children to Westminster on a Friday.

"At 1pm, the time our schools have to close, we will be leaving our children at the Department for Education, the Treasury and I will leave my son and some of his friends with special educational needs at Downing Street."

She said: "It is the basic job of the Government to educate all of our children for five days per week, we intend to make sure they do this.

"If they will not do it in our local schools they can do it in their offices."

She later tweeted: "We are crowdfunding to send them a message.

"Thousands of kids singing Baby Shark at the Chancellor of the Exchequer because he has failed to provide schools for them to do it in."

A DfE spokeswoman said: "We know schools face budgeting challenges and are being asked to do more.

"However, Birmingham receives per pupil funding significantly above the national average: in 2019-20, an average of £5,080 per pupil, well above the national average of £4,689.

"So we are also clear that schools in Birmingham should have no need to move to a shortened week for financial reasons.

"Flexibility over the length of the school week is not new, schools have long had the ability to structure the school week as they wish and we trust that headteachers will do this in a sensible manner."

The Education and Skills Funding Agency recently sent a resource management adviser to help Birmingham City Council make best use of schools funding.

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