Commenting on extra resources to be allocated to grammar schools and free schools in tomorrow’s Budget, Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, says: “School leaders will be bitterly disappointed by today's budget details but those who will suffer most are the millions of pupils in schools facing massive and unsustainable budget cuts.
“Hundreds of millions of pounds have been found in order to pursue a policy on grammar schools that is proven to reduce opportunities for the most disadvantaged. This shreds the government's credibility on evidence-based policy. These new schools will actively lower education standards in the areas they serve.
“The chosen model for delivery is the free school. Free schools are the least efficient way to create new spaces. A few thousand pupils will benefit. In the meantime, millions of students will face a narrower curriculum, larger classes, crumbling buildings and the erosion of extra-curricular activities as schools cope with over £3 billion in real terms cuts. The most vulnerable children, including those with special needs and those whose parents cannot supplement school activity, will be hardest hit.
“The Chancellor has offered £216 million for the repair of school buildings. This is a drop in the ocean compared to the £6.7 billion the National Audit Office estimate is required to bring the School estate up to an acceptable standard.
“In short the priorities of this budget are fundamentally wrong. School leaders will be left wondering if there is any potential for constructive engagement with this government. In the absence of consultation and proper evidence, in the light of such narrow policies, many will conclude there is not.”
First published 07 March 2017