Budget failed to invest in education and could result in more teachers leaving profession, union warns
- Credit: PA
Suffolk education chiefs have accused the Government of failing to invest in education after the Budget contained no extra cash for school coffers.
While the Chancellor’s statement contained announcements on specific measures – including funding for maths initiatives – teaching unions had been urging Philip Hammond to find more money for core school budgets.
Following the Budget, they argued the Government has failed to address funding cuts, provide new money to fully fund education and guarantee future investment in the system.
Graham White, national executive member of the National Education Union for the region, including Suffolk and Norfolk, said: “The government does not appear to prioritise education. They have put too little into education over recent years and as a consequence schools are really struggling for resources which results in larger class sizes, less subject choice, and less support for pupils.
“We are now unfortunately likely to see more teachers leaving, the profession becoming more demoralised, the curriculum getting narrowed, schools cutting more, more parental financial contributions required, and pupils losing out.”
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Unions have repeatedly argued that the system is facing a funding crisis and that schools need an extra £2 billion a year to restore per pupil funding in real terms to 2015/16 levels.
Education Secretary Justine Greening announced this summer that an extra £1.3 billion will be found for England’s schools from existing budgets, although some unions have suggested this will not be enough to plug funding gaps.
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Former Suffolk headteacher Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, welcomed any additional spending but warned “this is a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed to safeguard educational standards”.
“School funding is being cut in real terms by 4.6% between 2015 to 2019, according to analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies,” he said.
“ASCL calculates that an additional £2bn a year will be needed by 2020 to address this situation.
“Funding for 16-19 education is even more inadequate. Despite its obvious importance in giving students qualifications which are vital for university entry and career progression, it receives significantly less funding per student than other phases of education.
“The spending announcements in today’s Budget do not remotely meet the urgent need for a significant improvement in education funding.”
Ministers have previously insisted that more money is being pumped into schools, and announced a new funding formula which they say will ensure money is allocated in a fairer way.
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said: “The Chancellor has already overseen the steepest cuts to school funding in a generation and a cap on public sector pay that has led to teachers leaving the classroom in record numbers.
“If Philip Hammond was serious about addressing the challenges in our schools he would have reversed the cuts his Government have imposed since 2015, protect their budgets in real terms, and abolish the public sector pay cap so we can retain and recruit the teachers and support staff that our schools desperately need.”