Hands off: parents and pupils line the street outside Colvestone Primary School.

Pupils across Hackney linked arms to “give their schools a hug” yesterday in protest against government funding cuts.

Parents and teachers also joined in for the ‘Arms Around our Schools’ event, organised by leading education campaign Fair Funding for All Schools (FFfAS).

FFfAS has accused the government of “stealing from other parts of the education budget to make it look like everything is okay”, following last month’s announcement on funding reforms.

Tara Mack, a campaigner for the local branch of FFfAS, said: “We’re really thrilled Hackney schools participated in the national ‘Arms Around Our Schools’ event. Giving your school a hug is fun! And we hope the government gets the message that parents are not going to stand for these budget cuts.”

Mack is a parent at Daubeney School in Lower Clapton, where staff and pupils linked arms after lessons had finished for the day.

Colvestone, Grasmere, Millfields and Northwold primary schools also joined in the protests.

Show of support: Our Lady’s students link arms. Photograph: Our Lady’s Convent

Our Lady’s students gave their support by forming a chain outside the school gates. A spokesperson for the school said: “They are standing up to the budget cuts and want to fight for their school.”

Education Secretary Justine Greening announced changes to the national funding formula last month that will see an extra £2.6 billion dished out to schools, describing them as “historic”.

But Mack said the reforms are “just a strategy to confuse parents”, adding: “They aren’t giving schools any extra money, just stealing from other parts of the education budget to make it look like everything is ok so we all go home and stop protesting.”

Protest: parents and students at Daubeney School lend a hand.

Reacting to Greening’s speech, Hackney’s deputy mayor Cllr Anntoinette Bramble said: “We remain firmly of the view that any reduction to schools funding in Hackney is wholly unacceptable and would jeopardise the borough’s record of improving educational standards.

“We also remain concerned over the increasingly unsustainable situation regards funding for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

“Should the Government’s new formula mean Hackney schools suffer cuts in the long-term, we will be very clear and vocal in our opposition and ensure the voices of our teachers, governors and parents are heard in Westminster.”

Support us

The coronavirus outbreak meant that the Hackney Citizen was unable to print a monthly newspaper for three months.

We're grateful that we have since been able to resume printing. This would not have been possible without the generosity of our readers, whose donations kept the paper from disappearing completely at a distressing time for residents.

A huge thank you to everyone who gave their time and money to support us through the lockdown, and to those who continue to do so as we slowly recover from the dramatic fall in advertising revenues, on top of the existing challenges threatening the future of local journalism.

A one-off donation or a regular contribution from anyone who can afford it will help our small team keep the newspaper in print and the website running in the coming months and years.

Find out how you can donate.

Thank you for your support, and stay safe.

The Hackney Citizen team