OUT IN THE FIELD: Pose the tough questions on education

The much loved and respected historian Pat Stevens whose funeral was held this week
The much loved and respected historian Pat Stevens whose funeral was held this week

Election fever is mounting and all the political candidates and their supporters will doubtless be knocking on doors over the next week for the final few days of campaigning.

With funding to schools being slashed to kingdom come, which in turn means not enough high quality teachers, support staff for vulnerable children being made redundant, larger class sizes, a reduction in the number of subjects that can be taught and poorly maintained schools, here is a straightforward non-political plea to ask prospective MPs what they will do to ensure our schools are properly funded.

When they are standing on your doorsteps, ask them how they will ensure school budgets are protected in real terms for the duration of the next Parliament.

Some schools are looking to create classes of 60-100 children in the school hall because they cannot afford enough teachers. What are candidates going to do to prevent that? Our children should be provided with a broad curriculum, great support and enriching activities. How will they ensure our children have the educational experience they deserve if school budgets are being cut by eight per cent by 2020?

Ask them how they will ensure education for children with special educational needs is adequately resourced? Too often politicians of all parties have followed personal preferences rather than what really matters creating the conditions to ensure high quality teaching for all students.

Regardless of your political persuasion, please use this opportunity to help hold our politicians to account for the choices on school funding; our children deserve it.

At the top of the list of birthday shout outs this week is the absolutely gorgeous Melvyn Moulding, known as Foggy to all and sundry, who is celebrating his 70th birthday.

Sadly though there are two deaths to report of individuals who made a real difference to Eastbourne in their own way. My former Chelmsford Lodge headmaster, David Stevens, passed away on Saturday.

David always had a twinkle in his eye and was particularly knowledgeable when it came to matters of planning and after being born and bred in the town cared passionately for Eastbourne.

It was also the funeral this week of the much respected and loved local historian Pat Stevens. Pat was an archaeologist, historian, shepherd, miller, publisher and printer and as fellow historian Kevin Gordon rightly pointed out, the impact Pat and husband Lawrence made on unearthing the history of Sussex and particularly Eastbourne cannot be underestimated.

Kevin tells me, “It was thanks to Pat’s dedication Polegate Windmill was restored. She relaxed by keeping sheep at Tutts Barn Lane. Her funeral was at St Saviour’s where she was baptised and married and was followed by her burial at Clayton Natural Cemetery. Her grave on the Sussex Downs under Jack and Jill windmills could not have been more appropriate. The sweeps of Jill windmill had been set to the ‘mourning’ position to remember this great lady.”