Schools budget increase ‘does not go far enough’

18 Jul 17

Teaching unions have blasted the government’s pledge to increase school budgets by £1.3bn from efficiencies within the Department for Education as “smoke and mirrors”.

Yesterday, education secretary Justine Greening told the House of Commons an increase to planned school budgets and confirmed plans for a new “fairer” national funding formula were going ahead.

She announced that schools would get £416m in 2018-19 and £884m in 2019-20, on top of the core school budget set in the last spending review. This means school funding will be £2.6bn higher in 2019-20 compared to 2017-18.

“Fairer schools funding – backed by today’s additional investment – will deliver the biggest improvement to the school funding system for well over a decade,” Greening told MPs yesterday.

“It will mean an increase in the basic amount that every pupil will get, protected funding for those with high needs and will ensure every local authority is in a position to give schools a cash increase through the new formula.”

According to the DfE, local authorities will continue to set a local formula for individual school budgets in 2018-19 and 2019-20 in consultation with schools in their area. Spending plans beyond this date will be set in a future spending review.

A joint statement issued by the Associationof Teachers and Lecturers, the National Union of Teachers, Unison and the GMB said the additional funds were welcome but do not cover the £11.6bn real-terms cut schools face between 2015-16 and 2021-22.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL, said the government was reallocating some money from the free schools budget to maintained schools who were faced with unsustainable cuts.

However, she added this is not a long-term solution to the schools funding crisis. 

“School budgets are already squeezed to the bone and children’s education is suffering. Schools need the money now so they can provide the teaching and support all their pupils need to reach their potential,” she said.

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the NUT, said: “We have told the government that schools are facing big real terms cuts. 

“The government has had to recognise that fact. This extra money is welcome but it is nowhere near enough.”

Separately, Association of School and College Leaders’ general secretary Geoff Barton said: “We are concerned that this is money saved from elsewhere in the education budget and not ‘new’ money from the Treasury and we will be examining the implications.

“The government must also urgently address the severe underfunding of post-16 education which has put sixth forms and colleges under huge financial pressure and led to severe cutbacks.”

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