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Autumn Statement offers nothing for school budgets, says NAHT

Commenting on the Autumn Statement, Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, says: “it is disappointing that the government has not used the Autumn Statement to invest in education.

“We know that school budgets are being pushed beyond breaking point. Almost nine out of ten school leaders are telling us that a rise in national insurance employer contributions and pension contributions are the key reasons behind financial pressures in their school. Freezing budgets at a time of rising costs is no protection at all. The government has the levers to address rising costs, but has again failed to pull them. In fact, with the new apprenticeship levy it is taking yet more money out of schools. 

“Social mobility has rightly become a focus for the government. And yet, without investment in what works - quality early years education, high quality teachers and the right funding delivered directly to schools - it is hard to see how the rhetoric can match the reality. Capital investment in grammar schools is the wrong priority, and a distraction from the most important issues in education.

“It takes a courageous government to spend money on programmes that will not deliver immediate benefits, such as investment in education. Sadly that courage is lacking today.”

James Bowen, director of middle leaders’ union NAHT Edge, says: “middle leaders see the consequences of tight budgets – stagnant pay, a lack of investment in new equipment and the constant pressure of being asked to use leadership time to teach in the absence of enough teachers.

“We know that teaching is falling behind other professions when it comes to pay. The government’s own School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) is saying this. Without extra investment, the recruitment crisis will only worsen.

“Schools often step in when other public services are cut. Almost eight in ten NAHT members say that their school directly funds support for children with mental health issues. Even when faced with budget pressures, schools will try and do the right thing for their pupils. This is not sustainable over the long term. To make funding work, including moves to a new funding formula, we need to see the investment schools need.”

First published 05 January 2018