What’s a fair price to pay for state education, asks NAHT
A survey of 29,000 NAHT members showed that seven out of ten expected their budgets to be untenable by 2019, says NAHT General Secretary Paul Whiteman.
It’s fair to say that it was a surprise to many people that education became an agenda-setting issue during the General Election campaign.
Nearly a million people changed their votes on polling day because of what they’d heard about education from the major parties.
Since then, each party has sought to set out its vision for the future of education, from the early years, to apprenticeships, to higher education and beyond.
Whichever vision you subscribe to yourself, the importance of giving all young people a high-quality education is a mission that unites teachers and politicians.
Globally, the highest performing education systems are ones that fully and fairly fund their schools and recognise that teachers are high-value public servants.
Whatever the mood in Westminster, the mood in the profession is that teachers are still not afforded the credit and respect they deserve and that school budgets have reached breaking point.
The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) represents leaders in the majority of schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A survey of our 29,000 members showed that seven out of ten of them expected their budgets to be untenable by 2019. Our findings are supported by official and independent figures.
Government data brought to light in September by the Lib Dems suggests that about a third of all schools in England are already in deficit. In December last year, The National Audit Office reported that although the overall schools budget is protected in real terms up to 2019-20, this does not provide for funding per pupil to increase in line with inflation.
£2.8bn has been cut from school budgets since 2015. The ‘School Cuts’ website has mapped the impact for every school in the country and is a good way of finding out how school funding is affecting your constituency. I’d be very surprised indeed if you hadn’t heard from a head teacher or a parent recently expressing concerns about school funding.
One secondary school leader from East Sussex has said that textbooks are not being replaced and leaking classrooms are not being repaired. He has had to start using primary school furniture in order to fit more pupils into fewer classrooms because some areas are not fit to use and there is no money to pay for repairs.
A primary head teacher from Manchester told us that due to the cut in funding after 2020 she would have to make all of her Teaching Assistants redundant. She said that 90 per cent of her pupils never hear a bedtime story, never see an adult read for pleasure and have never visited the local library. She used to be able to make up for some of these disadvantages. Now that is no longer the case.
Education is an issue that everyone cares about. Parents, governors, teachers and school leaders have all become campaigners.
They will all be watching the Chancellor closely on 22nd November to see if he acknowledges the scale of the problem and finds more money for the DfE to spend on children and young people.
We hope that you will listen to what your constituents are telling you about school funding. Make contact with your local schools and see if their stories match the ones I’ve mentioned here. Above all, we’d like to see Parliament alive with debate about school funding between now and the Budget.