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NAHT comments on Budget 2020

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, which represents leaders in the majority of schools, said: “The government has promised the NHS whatever they need to deal with the effects of Coronavirus. It may be that as an essential public service schools are also called to play their part during this time of crisis, but constant speculation about what schools might need is unhelpful and will only serve to fuel unnecessary anxiety at an already worrying time. Schools will be able to tell government exactly what they require once they know how they are directly affected. I am confident that will include the financial resources needed. I cannot see why the government would want to treat schools and children in any different way to the support offered to the NHS.

“Unfortunately, the detail of the Budget shows that capital spending in education will fall next year, whilst NHS capital spending is set to rise. It is also disappointing to see that whilst the government is providing £1.5 billion over five years to bring the facilities of further education colleges up to a good level, there are no comparable plans to do this for schools. Even in 2017 the National Audit Office (NAO) calculated that it would cost £6.7 billion to return all schools in England to satisfactory or better condition, and a further £7.1 billion to bring parts of school buildings from satisfactory to good condition. These costs will only have increased since then. School buildings across the country are in urgent need of repair.

“Last year the government promised to invest a significant amount of money into education which is very welcome. But against the backdrop of more than a decade of real-terms cuts, this actually only restores funding levels to where they were before austerity kicked in. In other words, an unprecedented 13-year funding freeze. During that time the demands on schools have only increased. The money will not be enough to meet the needs of all pupils.

“The government would therefore be wrong to suggest that it is ‘job done’. There’s more to do, and we should start by engaging with the profession about how the money should be spent. Simplistic formulas may look attractive in an election campaign but the profession knows that school funding is a complex matter. There will be winners and losers; we need to make sure that no child falls behind.”

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363

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