The Tories are taking our schools back to the 1990s

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This article was first published in the South London Press on 03 March 2017.

We all know the importance of a good education. A good teacher can light a spark inside a young student that sets them on a path of learning and a career for their whole life. Education opens doors of opportunity to the world, whether it be a job, a passion or an interest. By equipping the next generation with the right education and tools they can adapt and survive in this rapidly changing global world we now live in. And by getting that education our young people can become fully engaged and active citizens who are able to participate in our society. As a soon-to-be father I want the same good education for all of the children in Streatham that I want for my own child.

The last Labour Government made education a priority. It rebuilt crumbling school buildings, it bought new text books and new computers to create an education system fit for the modern era. Labour hired and trained a new generation of teachers, classroom assistants and support staff. The result was record levels of achievement and exam results across the country, including in areas which had historically struggled. London's schools, which had suffered with chronic underinvestment by the Tories in the 1990s, were turned around and put on a path of success.

Turn the clock forward to 2017 and this Tory Government is doing the same, threatening our schools in Streatham and across Lambeth with funding cuts once again, which will have a direct impact on the education and life chances of our young people. The Tory's proposed new National Funding Formula will see schools in my Streatham constituency (which covers Streatham and parts of Clapham, Balham, Tulse Hill and Brixton) lose £2.4m a year -- £12m over the course of a five year Parliament. Research by the National Union of Teachers has highlighted that when inflation and other Government cuts to the Education Services Grant are taken into account the total funding cut to schools in Streatham is £10.7m per year, £24.4m per year across the whole of Lambeth. That's an average of £743 less per pupil for schools to spend. It amounts up to losing 656 teachers across our borough -- the equivalent to a high school full of teachers.

This sets our schools back on to the path of chronic underinvestment of the 1990s. Our Labour council here in Lambeth has done an excellent job of finding creative solutions and ideas to protect people from the worst of the cuts handed down by this Tory Government. These cuts are not the fault of our council, the responsibility lies squarely at the door of Theresa May in 10 Downing Street.

This has nothing to do with a policy of aiming to improve the education and life chances of the children from our community. The Tories are overseeing the first real-terms cut in the schools budget for over two decades and it has real impacts on school resources and their ability to teach our children -- books, computers, teachers, and building repairs.

This is simply not good enough. I will continue to work hard with my Labour colleagues in Parliament to fight this damaging agenda and demand answers from the Government. The Labour Party was founded to represent the interests of working people and to protect those who can't always protect themselves because of poverty, disability and unfortunate circumstances. I will continue to do just that for everyone here in Streatham and Lambeth.