Mobilising parents and teachers to win back school funding

School Cuts

The Schools Cuts campaign is a coalition of 6 education unions led by the National Education Union. Since 2016, School Cuts have been mobilising parents, school leaders, teachers and politicians to fight for school funding.

Challenge

At the 2017 General Election, 750,000 people switched their vote because of the school funding issue. Under immense pressure as a direct result of the School Cuts Campaign, then Education Secretary Justine Greening delivered a surprise announcement of £1.3bn over the next two years for front-line school budgets.

This was a momentous win for our campaign but it also posed a challenge. The money announced wasn’t new money from the Treasury and it was nowhere near enough to cover the £2bn needed per year to offset the damaging cuts to date. 

As school resumed in September we had to quickly re-establish the campaign narrative that education in the country was under threat, despite what the Government said.

How we did it

We have continued to work on this campaign since the General Election alongside our friends and collaborators at Outlandish for the National Education Union and the wider coalition. Building on the success of the Election Campaign, we used a three strand approach:

  1. STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS
    Together with the National Education Union, we preemptively set out five tests that any funding announcement must pass in order to fix the school funding crisis. Activating our message via press and digital channels, we were able to outmanoeuvre the Government and set the agenda for the national debate.
  2. IMPACTFUL STORYTELLING
    We deployed storytelling videos to unpack the impact of school cuts, showcasing new spokespeople, like trusted headteachers, to add a human dimension to the stark numbers on schoolcuts.org.uk.
  3. DIGITAL ADVERTISING
    To win over parents in our target constituencies, we served localised Facebook ads showing the impact of funding cuts in their community, driving traffic and conversions for the campaign in those areas. Later, we would draw on these new sign-ups for higher level actions.

5.4m

Voters Reached

+74k

Actions Taken

The Numbers

8.8m

Video Views

750,000

Votes Changed

Outcomes

In just seven weeks, we won back the conversation, reinvigorated the campaign and delivered a memorable lobby of Parliament.

Harnessing the power of digital tools, we mobilised our list while developing new parent leaders at an unprecedented speed. People who had never taken political action before were equipped and empowered to lobby their MPs and build local capacity for future action.

Government MPs who had previously denied the figures on schoolcuts.org.uk met with scores of parents, children and heads from their communities – some of them for many hours – until convinced to take their message to the Chancellor before the budget. 

Together we proved to the Government that this campaign won’t relent; that beyond elections, parents, heads and teachers will continue to mount a serious fight to protect education. And by testing new tactics, deploying strategic communications and developing fresh activists, together with the National Education Union we made this possible.

The School Cuts Campaign is ongoing.