ATL comment on the Autumn Spending Review
Commenting on the Autumn Spending Review, Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: The Chancellor has rightly recognised the importance of education in protecting it from the worst excesses of his scythe.
“However, we are extremely concerned about cuts of £600 million from the education services grant as this provides essential support for schools.
“It makes good sense for sixth form colleges to be given the chance to reclaim VAT; an anomaly we have urged the Government to remove.
“We welcome the protection for the core funding rate for 16- 19-year-olds in FE colleges.
“The Government is right to introduce an apprenticeship levy on businesses since only 11% of employers offer apprenticeships, but the key will be their quality. Further education colleges, which play a critical role in providing training for apprentices, have been already been hard hit by Government cuts and now face further turmoil with the area reviews which are likely to lead to closures and mergers resulting in fewer courses.
“Despite the reprieve to the adult skills budget we continue to fear for the future of further education which is in intensive care, having already been hit by what Professor Alison Wolf described as ‘catastrophic’ cuts. Currently FE provides over half of all construction, engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships and training to 35% of large employers in the country. It is essential element in the drive for a more highly skilled and productive workforce.
“Any changes to the school funding system must protect disadvantaged children, with funding going where it is most needed rather than where it is most asked for. We urge the Government to conduct a proper consultation to ensure any new system is fair for all children and to give schools a proper transitional period to prepare.
“While 30 hours of free childcare for three and four year olds is good news, this needs to be of high quality and properly funded to enable nurseries to provide the care children need.
“Nothing the Chancellor has said today addresses the current teacher recruitment and retention crisis. Four more years of a one per cent pay cap will cast teaching further and further adrift from the salaries of other graduate entry professions.”