Will the budget address our school funding crisis?

Headteachers will be taking a particular interest to see if Philip Hammond’s Budget on Wednesday addresses the school funding crisis in our schools and allocates additional money to the school budget. This is a real problem, with 90% of our schools affected by real terms cuts to funding. Kevin Courtney Joint General Secretary, for the National Education Union writes in The Huffington Post

 Headteachers have written to the Prime Minister in their thousands, parents groups have sprung up to raise awareness of the issue, and the joint unions website School Cuts was instrumental in changing people’s votes during the 2017 General Election. Yet the Education Secretary and many Conservative MPs continue to deny that there is any problem whatsoever. 

Nick Gibb last week berated a school in the Prime Minister’s constituency for asking parents for a £1 voluntary contribution to help pay for pens, pencils and books. He questioned whether this was the right thing to do given that some Multi Academy Chains are paying CEOs six figure sums.  

Well, the answer to that is surely “do something about it.”

Nick Gibb’s second point was that schools are sitting on a £4billion surplus. Let me remind him here that official data shows almost 10,000 schools – nearly half of the total – were in deficit in 2015-16 and almost 4,000 of those had been in deficit for two years. Those schools certainly can’t spend surpluses if they don’t have any.

 

The Department for Education doesn’t say how much money schools should keep in reserve but accountants generally advise three months operating expenses as a target. Telling schools to spend every last penny is reckless and is simply a cover-up to avoid responsibility for the shortfall in school and college funding from Government. Some schools do still have reserves, but they are generally small and most of them already committed.

Our latest analysis of data published by DfE on the impact of the Department for Education’s school funding proposals has found that 90% of schools will be in receipt of less funding per pupil in real terms in 2019/20 than in 2015/16. This is actually an increase of 500 on our initial projection, which was based on the incomplete data published by DfE in September. Now that we have the complete data we can see that 17,942 schools will be expected to lose out.

The Government must start listening and accept the fact that schools are suffering. Ahead of the Budget, we urge the Chancellor to give schools the funding they need to ensure a decent education for all children and young people. Failure to do so will have the same consequences at the ballot box in next year’s May local elections as was seen in the General Election.

Read the full article Will the budget address our school funding crisis?

How hopeful are you about tomorrows budget? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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