English teacher Rebecca Bradley never thought her long Facebook post about cuts to school budgets and reforms in the curriculum would quickly make her a poster girl, but the candid post struck a chord among teachers and parents across Britain, collecting over 6,400 likes and thousands of comments.
“I was watching a clip with Justine Greening on grammar schools, and she kept reiterating that the Tory Party had increased their spending on education to record levels,” Bradley told RT in describing what had motivated her to write the long post.
“The BBC reporter, whose name escapes me at the minute, kept calling her out on it, but she just kept pushing this angle. And I just couldn’t deal with that.”
In the Facebook note, the teacher of 12 years describes how rules for new GCSE exams are constantly changing, leaving both students and teachers at a loss. She also lists how the Tories’ grammar school program is diverting state funds to schools that will effectively benefit children from richer households.
“It’s a clear fact that house prices in [grammar school] catchment areas are higher. It’s a clear fact that middle-class families usually spend on tutoring and so more middle-class children get into grammar schools,” the King’s School Hove teacher wrote in her now well-known post.
“Why do we need to build more schools when we can just give more money to existing ones? It’s easy to improve a school. Stop cutting funding and invest in decent support services.”
However, what seemed to catch the public’s imagination were the severe cuts to school funding that has resulted in fewer teachers and teaching assistants, as well as fewer subjects and less pastoral support.
Schools across the country have been heavily affected by the government’s saving measures, with certain cases, like that of Hove Park School near Brighton, losing over £940,000 because of the cuts – the equivalent to £659 per pupil. Other cases include that of Bridgemary Community School in Gosport where £421,065 (£797 per pupil) was chopped.
“It’s a bit bewildering, but, at the same time, it’s good to see all the public defense,” Bradley said in an exclusive interview with RT about the reaction to her post.
“I think the biggest thing that struck a chord was the level of cuts I don’t think people realize how much is being cut from their local schools. I think that’s something that a lot of people just didn’t know anything about. I didn’t know about it until recently and I work in it.”
Support for her complaint was enthusiastic, with well-wishers from across the country leaving comments on the post.
“Well said. Thank you for taking the time to put all of these facts in one place,” said a woman named Roberta Maria.
“I’m a teacher and a parent and thank god someone has been able to put into words what we are all feeling. Well said and thank you,” wrote a Facebook user under the name of Lynn Spaughton.
Asked whether she thought it was the approaching general election that was motivating so many to share her message, Bradley said her political affiliation was of little consequence.
“I think that, regardless of who wins the general election, people just need to lobby their MPs and just say this is not acceptable to whoever is in charge,” Bradley said.
“I think something definitely needs to give. I don’t really like promoting my own political affiliation on Facebook. I just think it’s important we focus on changing it and try to reverse the cuts as much as we can, really.”
Last week, the National Union of Teachers backed calls for strikes in English schools against spending cuts.
The Department for Education replied to the threat by insisting that spending on schools is at its “highest level on record.”