It is now widely accepted that there is a funding crisis in education and that school budgets are at breaking point. The government has tried to ignore it, but more and more groups are making their voices heard. School leaders, teachers, governors, local authorities, parents, charities, think tanks, and research institutions, all agree: cuts to school funding is putting our children’s education, wellbeing and futures at risk.
The Chancellor can put this right in the budget on Monday 29 October.
Representing teachers and school leaders across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, NEU, NAHT and ASCL are bringing the teaching profession together to hold the Treasury to account, demanding that our schools and colleges are properly provided for in the budget, and proposing six tests for budget day:
1) Reverse school cuts now: Reverse school cuts now: This academic year is beginning with more cuts to educational provision and more cuts to staffing in schools. The Government’s announcement must ensure that every school is guaranteed at least the same money per pupil in real terms next year as when it took office in 2015.
2) New money from the Treasury: Existing Government plans mean real terms cuts in funding and cuts in education provision. The Government must announce genuinely new money for schools, not money taken from other areas of education spending. At least £2.8bn** more is required every year just to maintain funding in real terms in the face of inflation, cost increases and rising pupil numbers.
3) High needs, early years and post-16 education fairly funded: Politicians will try to focus simply on schools’ core funding. Funding must also be increased for “high needs” pupils, early years pupils and post-16 students, who have suffered even bigger cuts since 2010.
4) A five-year funding plan: Schools need to be able to plan for the future. With pupil numbers rising and costs increasing, they need to know how much money they will receive. Funding must be announced and guaranteed for at least the next five years.
5) Historic underfunding addressed: Schools in historically underfunded areas must receive extra money through a process of levelling up with better funded areas. Fair funding won't be achieved by taking money away from some schools to give to other schools. There must be enough new money to make a difference for every pupil, wherever they live.
6) All pay rises fully implemented and fully funded: The Government must implement the recommendations of the STRB (School Teachers’ Review Body) in full. The cost of all pay awards and pay agreements for school teachers, sixth form college teachers, and support staff must be fully funded by the Government, so that schools and colleges are not forced to make cuts in order to implement pay rises for staff.
Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “Schools, teachers and their pupils are being catastrophically let down by this Government. What they will not stand for on Monday is yet more smoke and mirrors. There has been a shortfall in funding of £2bn a year in real terms since the 2015 general election. We need real solutions. Schools cannot continue with this ever-worsening spiral, which damages the educational opportunities of our children.”
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “School funding is a public service cash crisis that isn’t going away. It’s still a doorstep issue for voters, and until the Treasury announces more money for education, school leaders, governors, parents and others will continue to make their voices heard. They’re tired of misleading government comment. They know government statements on funding are not true when what they see with their own eyes every day proves that there is not enough money to cover the cost of education. Only new money from the Treasury on Monday will solve the school funding crisis.”
ASCL General Secretary, Geoff Barton, said: “Parliament needs to understand that hard-won educational standards are being put at risk by the government’s continuous and chronic underfunding of schools and colleges. Unless the Chancellor takes urgent action now over the education funding crisis, the vital work that schools and colleges do will be increasingly eroded along with the life-chances of all our children and young people. Just as the nation needs the people who keep the NHS running, we need to ensure that our schools and colleges have the means to provide the education quality that parents and employers rightly expect.”
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