Parents and children gathered outside Leeds Art Gallery on Thursday 30th June to send a message of opposition to SEND education funding cuts. As parents speaking from the platform explained the horrific impacts this is having on their children’s education. Particularly powerful were some of the children who spoke and demanded a decent education for them and their siblings.
Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party
Julie Baird, one of the organisers of the protest told us “The Leeds #SendNationalCrisis was well attended by around 250 supporters which included members of DEAL – Leeds, there were 28 other #SendNationalCrisis demonstrations/marches around the country. This is just the start of the SEND Revolution, this was mainly directed at the SEND education system that is broken. However all the services that are supposed to support disabled people need complete reform.”
In Leeds the protest came on the back of last year’s victory against cuts to transport to education for 16+ aged SEND students, led by DEAL – Leeds with support from Unite Community and other trade union and labour movement activists including the Socialisr Party.
At the protest, Cllr Jonathan Pryor, the council cabinet member forced into making the u-turn now called on labour and trade union members to ‘stand in the way and do everything to support them’ when SEND education is threatened with cuts, saying the council would do everything they can to stand in the way of these cuts. However, this so far hasn’t extended to using the council’s powers to license deficit budgets in schools for up to three years to avoid cuts, nor has it meant utilising the council’s reserves and borrowing powers to stop doing the Tories dirty work of cuts, as called for by Leeds TUC in their recently produced alternative budget.
Whilst the parents of DEAL – Leeds will welcome the open door to listen to them as a result of their campaigning efforts last year, it is action to fight to stop and reverse cuts to SEND education and other public services that will have a lasting impact on their children’s futures, and this is a battle that is only just beginning.