A coalition of education unions has today welcomed Labour’s manifesto commitment to reverse all cuts to school budgets and to make a once-in-a-generation investment in education.
The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the National Education Union (NEU) are all non-politically affiliated unions and believe we are speaking for the profession in welcoming these proposals.
The School Cuts coalition runs www.schoolcuts.org.uk which informs parents and the wider public of the facts about funding for every school.
In the summer we submitted evidence to the Department for Education for the government spending review. We called on the Government to reverse the cuts and provide a long-term plan for education in line with the House of Commons Education Committee report, A ten-year plan for school and college funding. (1)
Since then the government has announced additional investment in education. This is a step in the right direction but it is not sufficient to reverse all the cuts to schools and colleges or to properly address historic underfunding.
An analysis of government data on the School Cuts website shows, 83% of schools will still have lower per-pupil funding in 2020 than they did in 2015 in real terms.
We are delighted to see that one of the main parties of Government has looked carefully at the evidence and taken this issue seriously. With this announcement Labour has now committed to a plan that reverses the cuts to education; provides additional money to properly address historic underfunding; and makes it possible for all schools to ensure minimum standards of educational provision are in place such as a class size limit of 30 and a qualified teacher for every class. We believe parents and the public will be surprised that neither of these are currently guaranteed.
In addition, this manifesto commitment will deal with the crises in special needs provision and 16-19 education, as well as reversing the cuts to the Pupil Premium which provides schools with money to support disadvantaged children. The manifesto also reverses cuts to early years education and goes further with an ambitious plan to develop it into a high-quality service. This has the potential to significantly raise standards.
ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton said:
“This funding commitment has the potential to be a game-changer. It sets the bar for all political parties. Not only does it reverse the cuts which have caused so much damage to our schools and colleges, but it recognises that funding has to be increased to a level which matches the basic expectation on schools.
“We have analysed what it costs to ensure that every school is able to deliver a core curriculum in a building that is safe and well maintained, put a qualified teacher in front of every class, and meet necessary pastoral, safeguarding and special educational needs requirements. This is what the public expects and children deserve, and we are delighted that Labour has incorporated this modelling into its funding plans.”
NAHT General Secretary Paul Whiteman said:
“Education funding is a wreck. It will fall to whoever forms the next government to make repairs and guarantee sufficient money for the future. There isn’t a school in England, Wales or Northern Ireland that has escaped. The school funding crisis has forced teachers and leaders to take a keen interest in politics in recent years because they’ve seen first-hand the heart-breaking impact the cuts have had on individual children. We now have a clear picture of Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative funding plans. There are clear differences in policy between each party. When teachers, leaders and parents go into the polling booth on 12th December, education will be at the front of their minds.”
NEU Joint General Secretary Kevin Courtney said:
“Parents and teachers should be excited by the education funding pledges made by Labour in its manifesto; this pledge matches the demands of the School Cuts coalition.
“There are almost a million children in classes over 30. Many lessons are not led by qualified teachers. There are schools that are only open four and a half days a week. There is a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention.
“Our analysis confirms that these figures can reverse the cuts, deal with historic underfunding in many areas of the country and deliver the policy ambitions that Labour outlines on class size and on having a qualified teacher in every class and supporting our teachers and teaching assistants better. In addition, it can fund huge improvements in early years and 16-19 provision.
“We don’t tell people who to vote for, but we do ask people to think about education when casting their vote.”
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