by Ian Shires on 13 October, 2019
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson described school funding as being a “bit tight”.
It’s not “a bit tight” — this is a funding crisis.
We’ve lost teaching assistants. We’ve lost subjects on the curriculum. Teachers are paying from their own pocket for classroom supplies. Our school buildings are in disrepair.
It’s not a bit tight when a whole generation of children are missing out on a proper education.
For headteachers struggling to balance the books, the Government’s blunder today will come as no shock.
For years, our schools have been struggling with impossible budgets. Heads, support staff and teachers have done all they can to mitigate the impact on children. But the buck stops with the Government.
While the Government has conceded that schools have suffered billions in cuts, the response so far has simply been inadequate. The three schools in Willenhall North (New Invention Infants and Junior Schools along with Beacon Primary) have seen their budgets cut by almost £1.5 million since 2015.
In total, education budgets nationally need to be £12.6bn higher than current levels in real terms, per year, by 2022/23. That is the extent of the crisis schools face.
He has pledged no concrete number to solving the funding crisis in all phases of education.
In June, then-candidate Boris Johnson pledged a funding increase for schools that, in reality, only amounted to a 0.1% increase in overall funding.
He then announced he would ‘reverse the real-term education cuts’ by increasing school funding in 2022/3.
On the steps of Downing Street in July, he claimed his Government were going to ‘level up per pupil funding in primary and secondary schools’.
He echoed this sentiment the next day in Parliament – his objective being to lift per capita per pupil funding across England.
It’s unclear if this will be an attempt to reverse cuts for schools only. Or if this covers SEND provision, post-16 education, and early years funding.
It’s not clear what the PM is promising. Meanwhile 91% of schools have suffered Government cuts to per pupil funding since 2015. 8,500 children with special educational needs and disabilities do not have a school place for September. England’s 392 remaining maintained nurseries are facing average 30% cuts to their funding over the next school year.
One thing that is clear schools cannot afford any more empty promises or short-term fixes.
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