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  1. ITV Report

Cambridge schoolchildren protest again - this time over education cuts

Hundreds of Cambridge schoolchildren have been taking to the streets to protest again - not over climate change this time, but education funding.

Campaigners organised the march to highlight what they called the "foolish funding cuts" to local schools. One teacher told ITV News Anglia they are desperate for money.

Newnham Croft Primary in Cambridge is rated Good by Ofsted and is oversubscribed but popularity with parents does not solve the funding gap. The school says they are facing a shortfall of £54,000 this year.

I think we are desperate now, I mean we have been saying we are underfunded for a long time. Cambridgeshire has been underfunded for many years but this year it's been even worse because I think all of us have used up reserves. We've made as many cuts as we can for years now.

– Sharon Williams, Head teacher Newnham Croft Primary

This year's funding gap follows four years of being short by about £15,000 a year. The school says if funding continues at its current rate they will be £104,000 short in two years time.

In response the Government have said Newnham Croft Primary School's funding per pupil will go up 1.6% this year and schools in Cambridgeshire will receive an increase of 3.5% per pupil in 2019-20.

In a statement, a Department for Education spokesperson said:

“Since 2017, we have given every local authority more money for every pupil in every school and made funding fairer across the country.

“We know that staff costs are the single biggest item of spending in schools - which is why we supported schools with the cost of the teachers’ pay award with a new £508m Teachers’ Pay Grant across 2018-19 and 2019-20.

“While there is more money going into our schools than ever before, we do recognise the budgeting challenges schools face. That’s why we have introduced a wide range of practical support to help schools and head teachers, and their local authorities make the most of every pound on non-staff costs.

“Schools in Cambridgeshire will receive an increase of 3.5% per pupil in 2019-20, compared to 2017-18 funding levels, above the national average of 3.2%. This amounts to an extra £20.1 million when rising pupil numbers are taken into account.

“The Secretary of State has made clear that as we approach the next spending review, he will back head teachers to have the resources they need to deliver a world class education.”

The County Council says the problems faced by Newnham Croft are repeated across Cambridgeshire.

We are millions short, the reality is that the level of funding received just has not kept pace with the cost pressures we are facing.

– Jonathan Lewis, Service Director for Education, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

Newnham Croft says many of its outdoor facilities have been paid for by National Lottery grants, the Parent Teacher Association and charities. But with a leaking roof, a new boiler and ever rising staffing costs the school says charity can only get you so far.