Anne Cox is a primary school headteacher in Brighton and Hove, and a branch secretary for the NAHT – a union for school leaders. She’s been helping organise a campaign to raise awareness about school funding cuts.
Anne – am I right in thinking you organised a school hugging campaign?
Yes! We started with a banner campaign – hanging big banners on school railings that explained how much funding was being cut across the city. Then we held an ‘arms around our school’, where we got parents, staff and governors to literally put their arms around schools. One school managed to circle their whole school. We got a lot of attention on social media.
How did it come about?
It was part of the NAHT’s nationwide school funding in crisis campaign. We had a kick-off meeting in Brighton back in January which coincided with a meeting of a local parents’ group, who were also launching a campaign. So we created a steering group, bringing together the NAHT, the NUT and the parents’ group and since then, we’ve been working together to raise awareness about the funding crisis.
What’s the objective of the campaign?
We want to see all schools being properly funded – that they all have enough money to do what they need to. I know some schools are already having to cut art and music lessons. We’ve still got a long way to go, so we need to keep raising awareness and getting our message out there.
Any other novel activities?
We did a ‘message in a bottle’, where children wrote a message about what they loved about their schools, and we took the bottles up to Downing Street. We also ran a poster competition – the winner gets to have tea in the House of Commons with local MPs.
And has it been effective, so far?
It’s helped raise awareness among parents and the wider community. I think practically every school in Brighton and Hove has supported the banners, has done the arms around the school and the message in the bottle. And because we’re using networks with links to other parts of the country – like the parents’ group and the teachers’ unions – the message is spreading further and further.