Government’s schools funding plans panned before they are announced

28 Aug 19

Leaked proposals on education funding fall well short of the cash needed, a teachers’ union has said.

A document seen by The Guardian suggests the government will unveil a £3.5bn education spending package to increase teaching salaries and turn more local authority schools into academies.

English primary and secondary schools will receive £2.8bn for pupils up to the age of 16, including £800m for children with special educational needs and disabilities, according to the document.

Around £800m could go towards sixth form colleges and further education, the newspaper reported.

Other proposals include starting salaries for teachers increasing to £30,000 by 2022, a new wave of free schools and offering academies £24,000 to take over struggling schools.

But Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said that the funding “just isn’t enough”.

The NEU, along with the Association of School and College Leaders and the National Association of Head Teachers, estimated that schools and colleges need £12.6bn by 2022-23 to tackle funding shortfalls.

Bousted also criticised plans to back the creation of more academy schools, which recorded a record deficit of £6.1bn last year and have been found to be failing students from poorer backgrounds.

She said: “The government must invest in all schools and colleges across the country and give councils the powers they need to open schools where there is genuine need for new places. Instead, it seems they intend to throw more public money at their failed and discredited free school programme.”

Geoff Barton general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders said any funding would be welcome following years of austerity but warned that it must not be “simply part of a strategy for a forthcoming general election”.

“Any extra money must be allocated immediately and it needs to be part of a longer-term commitment to reverse the education cuts because the sums of money being discussed are not enough to achieve that objective on their own.”

The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimated last year that per pupil spending in England has fallen by 8% in real terms since 2009-10, with support for local authorities falling by 55% over that period.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We do not comment on leaks. We will announce further information on our domestic priorities in due course.”

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