I’m writing as I am dismayed by Sir Geoffrey Clifton Brown’s election leaflet, which we received this week, and am concerned it may confuse at best, and at worst potentially mislead residents of The Cotswolds who are not directly involved in education funding in Gloucestershire and The Cotswolds.

I speak as a former school governor of one of the wonderful primary schools in our area, a parent at the brilliant and outstanding Cotswold School, and originally from a family of doctors, nurses, teachers and university lecturers.

I am angry at the impression given of a load of money apparently due to flood into our schools; in 2017 the £1.3billion ‘rise’ actually translated into a reduction of 0.5 percent in Gloucestershire.

On the front page of the said leaflet, there are headlines about ‘Cotswold schools benefitting from £2.6 billion funding’, which is a national figure, and the afore-mentioned ‘additional funding secured of £1.3billion in the 2017 manifesto’ (again a national figure), and then one small sentence which includes…’the current system of funding allocation has meant that schools in Gloucestershire have been unfairly funded’.

This sentence is indeed true, but the context needs explaining.

Everyone needs to truly understand what this means, and I don’t say this as a political statement, there is simply compelling and long-standing information missing, which I would like to share.

When our children started their education, 16 years ago in 2003, we joined a local primary school which in all ways was the stuff of every 4-year-old parent’s dream….and in our first week we were approached and asked could we contribute to a ‘parents donation fund’.

Over the years, I came to understand resources were stripped to the bone.

For the school to be able to provide a good education with enough support in mixed classes, and all the extra-curricular activity I now know as an experienced governor is essential for a good education, extra funding, effort and resources were needed.

And so we now find ourselves at The Cotswold School some 16 years later, supporting our eldest at university as we cannot bear her leaving with over £50K in debt (which is like another mortgage for us), and Mr Morgan who has to be one of the most capable and talented headteachers in the country, having to ask parents to donate to this marvellous outstanding school because The Cotswold School and Gloucestershire Education funding has been chronically under-funded for years, with last year’s funding actually decreasing by over a million pounds in Gloucestershire.

So please fellow Cotswold’s residents, do please take care to read these leaflets carefully, from whichever party they come from, and fully scrutinise their contents and grill those canvassers who may knock on your door about what the ‘big numbers’ actually mean, and crucially ask what it means for your local schools in The Cotswolds.

My parents worked as a local GP and a hospital social worker all their lives in Kendal, in what was then Westmorland, a very similar area in many ways, and they were deeply respected by all in their community for their lifelong service to the NHS, but also to all their patient’s families.

What all those respecting and grateful patients didn’t see, was how tired and stressed my parents were when they retired at 60, on every level, because the service they had given had exhausted them.

It’s NOT OK. We need to care for our public servants and stand up for them, as in many ways they are asked to work with inadequate resources over long periods of time, and the continual creativity and resourcefulness required is ultimately de-moralising, and this is what is going on in Gloucestershire, and has been for years.

Fiona Lamb

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