The manifestos have been translated into direct predictions of funding consequences for every school, and politicians can no longer get away with lazily repeating fanciful claims, writes the NUT’s Kevin Courtney in The TES.
Six weeks is a long time in politics. We know a lot more now about education funding than we did on 18 April, when Theresa May made her election call. Much has happened to clarify the meaning of the parties’ education policies.
This is no thanks to the outgoing government. Justine Greening has conducted herself as if pre-election purdah applies to candidates as much as civil servants: her contribution to the public debate has been negligible. Her party has sought to conceal rather than clarify the meaning of its policies. The Conservative manifesto speaks of a “real-terms increase” in school funding, though in reality 93 per cent of schools will, by 2022, experience a real-terms per-pupil spending cut.
The IFS calculations are the basis of the figures presented by NUT, ATL, NAHT and GMB on our School Cuts website. They enable an authoritative challenge to highly misleading claims. But the website goes further than this. It digs deeper than any national analysis has previously been able to do.
Using other data to complement IFS figures, it shows the projected effect of Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem funding policies on every school in England and Wales. It employs a rigorous methodology with assumptions and procedures made absolutely transparent. It brings to the debate a focus and a clarity that are totally absent from the programme of the governing party.
This is work that is reaching a huge audience. The website has been visited 600,000 times. The NUT’s Facebook video on education cuts, released on 27 May, has already been viewed 3.7 million times and shared by 77,000 people. Thousands of volunteers have signed up to distribute the campaign’s leaflets.
Whatever the outcome of the election, this new way of working will have a lasting effect on education policy debate. We are now able to translate the words of politicians and the claims of manifestos into direct predictions of the funding consequences for every school. We are developing the capacity to make these issues the subject of ordinary politics – the things that parents will talk about at school gates.
Have you seen the Facebook video on education cuts? What did you think? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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