Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/493/2580
No to mergers, no to cuts
"THEY ANNOUNCED this decision in the Gazette, then three weeks later asked parents what they thought of the idea." "None of them care about what's best for my daughter - it's all about spending less. If these cuts are just about making things more efficient, why don't they give the difference back to the schools so they can spend the money on the kids?"
Ross Saunders, Central Glamorgan
These comments from parents in Bridgend about schools cuts show one thing clearly.
Whoever forms the next Welsh Assembly government, working people here know first-hand that no coalition of the main parties will break with Labour's policies of cuts, closures and privatisation in our public services.
Bridgend council has been run by a coalition of everyone-but-Labour since Labour lost power in 2003. Since then the council has pushed through savage cuts in every area within their remit.
Last April's budget slashed funding for adult education by a half and withdrew homecare support for elderly and disabled people.
But the Lib Dems who lead the group said these cuts would ensure more money for the schools budget - they were robbing Peter to pay Paul. Bridgend's classes are some of the largest in Wales and held in severely run-down buildings.
But these cynical politicians mugged Peter and Paul: education, too, is targetted for cuts. Councillors see the merger of several Bridgend schools as budget-slashing opportunities.
Infant and junior schools in Brackla, Tremains, Oldcastle, Litchard and Pencoed are merging to form single primary schools for children aged 3-11.
'Experts' wax lyrical, saying that "straight-through" education avoids the disruption caused by transition from infants to juniors. But the real motive is less philanthropic: a council report last year says something must be done about "surplus places" in Bridgend's schools. Despite fighting the Assembly election on a pledge to reduce class sizes, the Liberal Democrats leading Bridgend think classes of 30+ are too small!
No local teachers back them up on this. Brackla stands to lose a tenth of its previous total budget - almost £90,000 - all the other four sites will be affected similarly. The council even refuses to say whether the cuts will mean the loss of frontline teaching jobs.
Parents and the community are learning that politicians of the main parties will hijack even otherwise positive changes in education to attack public services.
They are drawing political conclusions. Many recognise that none of the main parties represent ordinary working people's interests. People have to fight tooth and nail to halt their attacks.
The council warns that next year could be even more "difficult", with even bigger cuts to public services threatened.
Working-class people urgently need a new party to link up the struggles against attacks on public services.
In The Socialist 28 June 2007:
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