Education & Family

Budget ignores schools 'on their knees' in cash crisis, says NUT

Pupils Image copyright Getty Images

The chancellor has been accused of neglecting his duty to schools and colleges "on their knees" financially across England in his Budget.

Philip Hammond did not answer demands from heads and teachers to ease mounting cash pressure in schools.

The National Union of Teachers accused Mr Hammond of a dereliction of duty to children and young people.

Mr Hammond did use his budget to invest about £360m in building new free schools, some of which may be grammars.

And a further £500m is being invested in vocational education and new "T-levels" - 15 new technical education routes for 15- to 19-year-olds.

Details of these investments were given to journalists days before the Budget, as the chancellor reiterated claims school funding was at a record £40bn a year.

'Cut to the bone'

But after the Budget, NUT general secretary Kevin Courtney called it "a complete dereliction of duty to our children and young people".

"The chancellor knows full well that schools and sixth-form colleges up and down the country are on their knees struggling to make ends meet," he said.

"School budgets have been cut to the bone, class sizes have increased, subjects have been dropped from the curriculum, materials and resources are scarce, yet nothing has been done to address this very serious problem."

He said that analysis for his union had found 98% of schools would see cuts under the new "fair funding" formula between now and 2020.

The government is currently consulting on a proposed formula that aims to bring the differences in funding between regions more into line.

"In the prime minister's constituency of Maidenhead, for instance, schools are set to lose an average real-terms loss of £377 per pupil, while the schools in Philip Hammond's constituency of Runnymede and Weybridge will lose an average of £285 per pupil during the same period," Mr Courtney said.

'Larger classes'

ATL teachers' union head Mary Bousted said: "Parents and children will be deeply disappointed that the chancellor has not taken this opportunity to put more money into the national funding formula, which would be the best way to improve social mobility and ensure all children get a good education.

"Putting more money into free schools and grammar schools will not benefit most children and is a costly way of providing extra school places."

Head teachers mirrored the disappointment, saying the Budget had failed to address the fact that schools and colleges were having to make significant cuts to their annual running costs.

Association of School and College Leaders interim general secretary Malcolm Trobe said: "This means a reduced curriculum, less student support and larger class sizes".

'Gifted?'

National Children's Bureau chief executive Anna Feuchtang said the government had its priorities wrong in focusing on the academically gifted over all children.

"It's wrong to assume children are simply born 'gifted'," she said.

"Many children start school at a disadvantage - living in poverty, in an unstable family environment, or even at risk of neglect or abuse.

"These children have little chance of being deemed 'gifted', and it's the government's responsibility to ensure these children are not forgotten."

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