Government’s school funding announcement disappoints education unions 

The government’s funding announcement today (Monday) is disappointing and means a return to smoke and mirrors statements on school funding, say education unions.

UNISON, ATL, NUT and GMB have said that whilst any extra money is welcome, it isn’t enough to stop the huge cuts that schools are making.

Calculations published on the organisations’ School Cuts website show that under the Conservative Party’s manifesto plans for school funding, schools faced a loss of £11.6 billion in real terms between 2015/16 and 2021/22.

The extra money pledged today is not sufficient to make up this loss, say the unions. The government says it will ensure no school faces losing funding in cash terms. But, inflation will mean most schools will be significantly worse off in real terms, the unions have warned.

Schools are already cutting curriculum choices, activities for pupils and teaching and support staff posts.

The unions are calling on the government to find further additional funding to protect all schools and avoid damaging cuts to children’s education.

UNISON head of education Jon Richards said: “Considerable extra money is needed to reverse the damage already done. Teachers and pupils are paying a high price because support staff have been axed.”

“The loss of these jobs with other cuts is placing schoolchildren at risk. The government should be investing in their futures.”

Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: “After one of the most successful joint union campaigns we are heartened the government is reallocating money from the free schools budget to maintained schools, who faced unsustainable cuts.

“However, this is not a long-term solution to the funding crisis. School budgets are already squeezed to the bone and children’s education is suffering. Schools need the money now so they can provide the teaching and support all their pupils need to reach their potential.”

NUT general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “We have told the government that schools are facing big real terms cuts. The government has had to recognise that fact. This extra money is welcome but it is nowhere near enough.”

GMB education lead officer Sharon Wilde said “Any genuine increase in funding will be welcome, but school staff won’t believe it until they see an end to the job cuts and funding droughts that are pushing the education system to the brink.

“If this new funding comes from more cuts to teaching assistants and other support staff then the quality of children’s services will continue to suffer.”

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