Hundreds protest against early school closure amid 'budget cuts'

Hundreds of parents, teachers and children are protesting over the number of schools being forced to close early due to 'funding cuts'.

Campaigners are marching from Parliament Square in London to Downing Street to protest against the adoption of a four-and-a-half-day-week by some schools.

Parent group Save Our Schools has attributed the shorter week to funding cuts and schools trying to keep within their budget.

Labour MP Jess Phillips is leading the march in London, along with her 10-year-old son, who attends one of the schools in Birmingham that closes early on Friday.

Labour MP Jess Phillips is leading the protest along with Save Our Schools. Credit: PA

She told ITV News: "Parents will have to give up working on a Friday themselves, this has a massive impact and the government has a responsibility to do better.

"In this country, we still expect the state to have a responsibility on the education of our country for five days a week."

The Birmingham Yardley MP will leave her son outside Downing Street to represent the government's responsibility to care for and educate the nation's children.

Parents have said they will have to pay for expensive childcare to cover the period when children will no longer be at school on Friday afternoon.

Danny, the son of Labour MP Jess Phillips, on the steps of Downing Street. Credit: PA

Catherine Fisher, who's children go to school in Brighton and Hove, told ITV News: "They [schools] have cut everything they could possibly cut and they now have to make impossible decisions over what to do next.

"As a working parent, you are constantly juggling, they're in childcare, which is expensive.

"If and when the school drops down, then my childcare is going to go up, or I'll have to drop the hours that I work, and I'll lose that way.

"My children will lose their time in school, their week will be compressed, it means the other days will have to be more intense, they will have less time to do singing they love... They'll have less time for all of that."

She added: "What really worries me is that you have some schools providing full school weeks and other schools which won't be able to do that. Talk about trying to increase equality, it's going the opposite."

Protesters headed from Parliament Square to Downing Street. Credit: PA

Schools in Birmingham, Stockport, Leicester, Sussex, Hertfordshire and Wiltshire are closing their doors at Friday lunchtime, with schools in Brighton and Hove planning a shorter week from September.

Kate Taylor, co-founder of the Save Our Schools West Midlands campaign, said: “If we were to remove our children for one Friday afternoon, let alone every Friday afternoon, we would be committing a criminal offence.

“It’s quite simple: we want our children to be in school receiving the education they deserve.”

However a Department for Education spokesperson said funding for schools in one of the areas affected is above average.

A spokesperson said: “The funding for an average primary class of 28 in Birmingham is £125,000 – above the national average of £115,000 for an equivalent sized class.

"These amounts are to cover a full five-day week in term time.”