A number of schools in Cambridgeshire have begun charging pupils for after-school and lunchtime activites and sports clubs. This is the latest evidence of the nation-wide assault on education as part of the Coalition’s austerity drive. Ben Gliniecki reports on the attacks across the board on education.
A number of schools in Cambridgeshire have begun charging pupils for after-school and lunchtime activites and sports clubs. This is the latest evidence of the nation-wide assault on education as part of the Coalition’s austerity drive. And yet as Cambridge’s school children suffer the loss of an important part of their education due to a lack of government funds, international Cambridge based businesses such as the technological giant ARM Holdings are making the most of the Coalition’s cut in corporation tax by raking in massive profits.
Comberton Village College and Linton Village College have both admitted to charging pupils for extra-curricular activities such as additional language lessons, sports coaching and critical thinking tutorials. A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire NUT has rightly pointed out that this means that families with more money are able to buy their children a broader education.
Given the recent disgraceful above inflation rent rise for council tenants and the huge cuts in council tax support for the vulnerable (see here for the analysis of the cuts to council tax benefit nationally), alongside the gloomy predictions for the whole UK economy, the number of families who will be willing and able to fork out for extra activities to broaden the education of their children is going to be decreasing rapidly over the next few months and years.
Coupled with the likely privatisation of a formerly council funded primary school in Cambridge, the creeping privatisation of education in Cambridge and across Britain threatens to create a decent education system only for the shrinking number who can afford it. Students at Anglia Ruskin and Cambridge Universities have participated in the demonstrations against cuts to higher education funding and the increasing tuition fees because they are also concerned about the introduction of privatisation into the education sector. Everyone is worried about the effects on the quality of public education caused by the cost-cutting and the financial segregation of students that comes with private firms motivated only by profit.
The reason why schools have begun charging for extra-curricular activites is the same reason why Cambridgeshire County Council recently declared its intention to cut its employees’ salaries, terms and conditions, as well as completely cutting 100 full time jobs this year. It’s not that these things are not needed – they clearly are. It’s because the council simply doesn’t have enough money from the central government to pay for them. It is being forced by the Coalition to impose cuts.
But why is there not enough money? The Tories and Lib Dems in Westminster seem to be able to afford to remove the 50% income tax band and reduce the level of corporation tax to one of the lowest levels in the developed world. And yet they cannot give Cambridgeshire enough money to keep its frontline ambulance services working properly, nor can it prevent the very banks that were bailed out with public money from repossessing the homes of some of the most vulnerable in society and reducing them to the desperation of homelessness.
The reason is that the clique of financiers who control the international money markets are holding the Coalition government to ransom. Either they must make cuts or investment will be withdrawn from Britain. As such the government is willing to appease these international gangsters by cutting funding to local governments, thus making ordinary people in places like Cambridgeshire pay for the crisis of capitalism for which they are not responsible.
What Cambridgeshire needs is councillors who are willing to stand up to the Coalition and their friends in the banks, hedge funds and big businesses. As has been explained elsewhere, our councillors must refuse to make cuts and point out that the only way to fight this capitalist mafia is to take their banks and businesses and place them under public ownership and control. That way the tenants, workers and children of Cambridgeshire will not be reduced to poverty just so that the bosses can keep making profits.