English school budgets at ‘breaking point’, NAHT warns MPs

16 Oct 17

Head teachers are urging MPs to take the education funding crisis seriously, warning that school budgets are at “breaking point”.

In an unprecedented step, the National Association of Head Teachers has written to every member of the House of Commons highlighting that schools budgets have lost a total of £2.8bn since 2015 and 70% of the union’s 29,000 members expect their budgets to be untenable by 2019.

In the letter to MPs, general secretary Paul Whiteman wrote: “I’d be very surprised indeed if you hadn’t heard from a head teacher or a parent expressing concerns about school funding over the last few months.”

According to the NAHT, pressure on school budgets has been exacerbated by: changes to National Insurance and Pensions, which have increased employers’ contributions by more than 5.5% since April 2015; £600m in cuts to the Education Services Grant, which covered services such as HR and facilities management; unfunded teacher pay awards; and the apprenticeship levy, which has added an extra 0.5% to the payroll costs of most maintained schools and academies.

The NAHT is planning a lobby of Parliament on 24 October, which will see parents and school leaders come together to highlight concerns about school budgets.

Jo Yurky, organiser of the parent-led Fair Fund All Schools campaign, said: “We can see the impact of the funding squeeze in our schools and we know what it means for our children’s futures.

“We are letting MPs and ministers know that cuts to education are not acceptable. We will continue our campaign into this new school year and won’t stop until this government comes up with the increased investment that our schools need.”

According to the NAHT’s briefing on schools funding, the government admits that there is not enough money for schools.

Education secretary Justine Greening committed an extra £1.3bn for school budgets for 2018-19 and 2019-20.

However, this is some way short of the £2bn a year required just to return to 2015-16 funding levels, the education union said.

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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