Hinds’ education funding announcement ‘not good enough’

4 Oct 18

A teaching union has said the £114m education spend announced by the secretary of state at the Conservative Party Conference was a “drop in the ocean”.

Damian Hinds, speaking in Birmingham on Tuesday, announced that 32 schools and 21 colleges would receive a share of £66m over five years to disseminate their expertise in English and maths.

“We need to make sure that all our young people leave our education system with the basic essential skills that they're going to need with them in life whatever path they end up taking, whatever job they ends up doing,” he told the conference.

“Central to that is English and maths”.

The education secretary also told the conference a £38m capital pot for so-called ‘T-levels’ – the vocational alternative to A-levels – had been created.

This funding would “make sure that the colleges teaching those first T-levels from 2020 can do so with really world class equipment and facilities”.

The qualifications, being phased in between this year and 2022, will allow 16 to 19-year olds to study subjects in 15 sectors, such as hair and beauty and construction.

“Who has heard of T Levels?,” he asked the audience in Birmingham.

“Well those of you who haven't yet, you will do soon, because within a couple of years we are bringing in this new qualification for 16 to 18 year olds called the T Level,” he said.

The chancellor first announced the T-levels in his spring Budget last year, when he gave £20m to colleges to prepare for teaching the qualifications.

Hinds also said £10m was going to be deployed into helping teachers deal with pupil behaviour, including training and updating guidance.

“We also know and any teacher will tell you that good teaching and learning relies on a calm classroom,” he explained. “Pupil behaviour is absolutely essential.”

But Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “At a time when there is a shortfall in funding of £2bn a year in real terms compared to three years ago, today’s announcement of additional money is a drop in the ocean.

“We have 66,000 more pupils in schools since last year yet there are 5,400 fewer teachers, 2,800 fewer teaching assistants, 1,400 fewer support staff and 1,200 fewer auxiliary staff. This is simply not good enough.”

Courtney said a lack of funding meant schools had had to cut subjects from the curriculum, increase class sizes, cut school rips and after-school clubs, leaving buildings in disrepair.

“Nothing in Damian Hinds’ speech addresses this desperate situation,” he said.

Karen Day wrote about the funding pressures on schools for PF this summer.  

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