‘Today’s lobby is about whether our government values education enough to fund it properly’

As thousands of people prepare to lobby about school funding, ASCL leader Geoff Barton explains why he’ll be heading to the Houses of Parliament in the Tes.

This is no half-term outing. It’s a mass lobby organised as part of the joint union School Cuts campaign – a chance for parents, school staff and headteachers to meet MPs and outline the urgent reality of the funding crisis facing our schools and colleges.

This isn’t scaremongering. Education funding is facing its biggest shortfall in a generation.

As a head or principal, you know the relationship between funding and provision – the cost of staff, of class sizes and the endless juggling between principles and pragmatism. This is a core part of the job of any school or college leader. You work with your curriculum planner, chair of finance and business leader to ensure the best provision for young people at the optimal cost.

Recent figures show that more than 9,400 schools – over one third of state schools – were in deficit in 2015-16. Almost 4,000 of them have been in deficit in each of the past two years, with almost 1,600 in deficit three years in a row.

Having made all the efficiencies you can on procurement, and now faced with the need to make further savings of, say, £100,000 next year, you cannot achieve that by postponing the painting of a few corridors, or putting on hold some orders for new textbooks.

The only way to make those savings is by directly impacting on the education of young people ­– increasing group sizes, reducing curriculum choice for students, and even removing some subjects from the curriculum in order to reduce staffing costs. It really is the only option.

But we also know that the Department for Education is alert to the scale of the problem. Before the summer holiday, we saw that education secretary Justine Greening’s accountancy credentials enabled her and her team to do some creative and much-welcomed shifting of funds from obscure parts of the education budget to the frontline for classrooms.

This sent out a strong signal. Now it’s time for the Treasury to act. Because ultimately, today’s lobby of Parliament isn’t just about money. It’s about principles. It’s about whether one of the world’s richest economies values education enough to fund it properly.

Read the full article ‘Today’s lobby is about whether our government values education enough to fund it properly’

Are you supporting the lobby today? Please tell us your thoughts and comments via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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