By Akila Kumar, Birmingham teacher
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has proposed to fund free school meals for all primary school children by adding VAT tax on private education fees.
At a time when schools are facing severe cuts to their budgets, Corbyn’s proposal is a welcome measure. It is an absolute disgrace that, due to cuts to benefits and the rise of in-work poverty, some parents go hungry so that their children can have a decent meal.
But to solve the crisis in education, Corbyn needs to go even further. His proposal should be just one of many measures to increase the funding available to schools. The government’s brutal cuts to education mean that primary schools will lose on average £403 per pupil and secondary schools will lose £554 per pupil by 2020.
It is no wonder that schools are struggling to fund basic resources for pupils: the school I work at cannot afford to replace basic classroom equipment.
Even more shocking, one primary school in Sussex has had to ask pupils to donate toilet roll and stationery, as it cannot afford to finance these items due to cuts. One in six state schools have sent letters to families asking for contributions of £20 a month or more for around 1.4 million students.
Elsewhere, schools are considering closing early two days a week as they cannot afford enough teachers.
Government cuts have left schools unable to meet the basic needs of pupils. Meanwhile, the government continues to promote inequality through academies, free schools and grammar schools.
These should be abolished and replaced by a properly resourced state education system for all. No school should have to ask for handouts from parents because they cannot afford resources.
No parent should have to go hungry so that their child can eat. There is enough money in the hands of the super-rich to finance a decent state education for every pupil.