AN estimated 1,000 head teachers from schools across England are expected to march on Downing Street tomorrow (Friday), protesting about “unsustainable” budget shortfalls.

While they are adamant: school budgets have been “slashed” and services cut, the Department of Education says: “There is more money going into schools than ever before.”

Joining representatives from some 45 counties, with Hampshire fielding “a significant” number, Amery Hill School’s newly appointed headteacher Stephen Mann will be fighting the corner for Alton.

It is a baptism of fire for Mr Mann who took up post at the start of term and is already proving to be a man of principle.

Married with two school-aged children, Mr Mann is due to spend his first year at Amery Hill taking stock and evaluating, before devoting some of his time to teaching geography and RE.

A teacher of 24 years, his career has been spent in much larger, more modern school environments and he has been “blown away” by the “traditional warmth and small school feel” of Amery Hill and its position at the “heart of the community.”

Sharing the governing body’s “visionary outlook, strong values and sense of community,” his ambition is to further strengthen the school’s academic excellence within a nurturing and student focused environment. He wants to encourage a culture of “celebration and reward”, of raised student expectation and aspiration” in an environment that allows staff and students to take chances and risks in learning and to challenge themselves and understand that getting things wrong is all part of learning.

He wants a “restless school”, full of “life-long learners”, never really satisfied and always watching for the next thing that it can do better.

He is proud of the inclusivity of Amery Hill which, as a stand alone Academy has invested heavily in making the school accessible to all students, with a strong SEN (Special Educational Needs) Hub, to break down barriers to learning.

He wants to work together with local cluster schools to compliment and drive the level of education provision forward to benefit the people of Alton.

And he believes Hampshire is a “good” Local Authority, offering good support, but it is the second worst funded in the country - receiving just £5,056 per pupil per head compared for example to Tower Hamlet at £8,331.

Mr Mann points out that while Academy status enables schools like Amery Hill to have more control over finances and greater autonomy, provision under the National Funding Formula is “crippling schools”.

And, while Amery Hill has a “wonderful” business manager and board of governors to manage the budget, with every penny accounted for and focused on teaching and learning, one of the biggest challenges as a head teacher is having to prioritise and compromise and, he said, “I don’t like to compromise young people’s futures.”

It is the driving force that has shaped his decision to join Friday’s march. He told the Herald: “In the past headteachers have always been polite and respectful, and they don’t strike. But enough is enough.

“This march is symbolic of years of under financing. If we are going to invest in one thing in this country we should invest in young people - they are our future - it is non-negotiable and we don’t want compromise.

“I will be marching to show solidarity with my colleagues and for the future of the education system.”