Following a meeting with Cotham School, James Cox has called for school funding to be reinstated and has called for a fundamental change in the culture around schools and teachers.
Cotham School has seen a projected £1.5 million cut in real terms from 2015-2019, equating to a £409 cut in yearly per-pupil funding. This cut to funding is broadly in line with what is being seen across the city of Bristol, which has received a £71.2 million cut in real terms funding since the Conservative government was formed in 2015.
Liberal Democrats protected per-pupil funding in real terms during the coalition government, including introducing the pupil premium boosting protected funding for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The real terms cuts to schools, however, has put incredible pressure on local school budgets, with Cotham School worried that they will need to follow others schools and reach out to parents and others for fund basic provisions.
The Liberal Democrats have proposed not only a return to 2015 real terms levels of per-pupil funding but also a radical change in the culture of teaching. Proposals include replacing Ofsted with a new HM Inspector of Schools which focuses as much on the culture of the school and on teacher and student wellbeing as well as academic attainment. They have also proposed banning league tables, publishing instead a broader range of data so parents get a better feel for the school, like survey feedback or comments from other school leaders on the quality of pastoral care or the breadth of subjects they offer.
James Cox, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol West, said:
"It was great to meet with staff at the school and see the brilliant work they are doing in spite of continued budgetary pressures from this Conservative government. Since Liberal Democrats left government, we have seen year on year cuts to per-pupil spending with the government expecting more from teachers whilst providing them with less.
"Our schools should be teaching and inspiring the next generation of Bristolians. They should not be worrying about having to set up Amazon wish-lists or another fundraising idea so they can afford the very basic learning supplies. They should not need to worry about a toxic culture which is decimating the teaching industry and harming student experiences.
"Liberal Democrats demand better for schools in Bristol. We are fighting for a schools system that is fully funded and gives teachers the freedom and power to do what’s best for students.