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The News Line: Feature 1,000 schools providing free school meals are facing the biggest cuts!
Teaching unions on a demonstration against Tory cuts and academisation
NEW research by NUT and the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) using DfE data shows that, under current government school funding policy, the 1,000 schools with the highest number of children with free school meals are facing much higher cuts in funding per pupil than schools generally.

The NUT (National Union of Teachers) has already exposed the fact that the government’s funding freeze will leave 98% of England’s schools worse off in real terms, even after its proposed new funding formula.

Now, this further research shows that primary schools with over 40% of children on free school meals will on average lose £473 per pupil in real terms, £140 more than the average for primary schools generally.

In secondary schools with over 40% of children on free school meals, the average loss per pupil will be £803, a staggering £326 more than the average for secondary schools as a whole. Nine children in every UK class of 30 are living below the poverty line (60% of median income).

Two thirds of children living in poverty have at least one working parent. The IFS projects a 50% increase in child poverty by 2020. The schools with the poorest children, however, will be hit hardest by the government’s funding proposals.

Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the NUT, said: ‘These findings confirm that the government’s proposed funding formula will work for no one unless more money is found. Almost every school is going to be worse off in real terms due to government funding policies.

‘It is disturbing to find now that the children most in need are in the schools that will be hardest hit. If children who are growing up in poverty do not receive an education that is well resourced and funded then the government will be seriously threatening their life chances. Unless additional money is found for all our schools then this country’s state education system will be put in jeopardy.’

Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of CPAG, said: ‘These are shocking figures. If the country – and our education system – is to work for everyone, not just the privileged few, ministers must reconsider the school funding formula. Poverty at home is the strongest statistical predictor of how well a child will do at school.

‘Schools and teachers can help to weaken that link if they have sufficient resources, but these new findings show that schools in the poorest areas would lose most from the Government’s proposed new funding formula. That would widen the educational attainment gap and set many of our children up to fail.

‘In the context of the Prime Minister’s social justice agenda, that outcome looks perverse. Up and down the country there are kids from hard-up households who find the odds are stacked against them both inside and outside the school gates. They may aim high, their parents’ and teachers’ aspirations may be strong – they may love school – but if there isn’t money at home for books, for an extra booster lesson or computer or even space for a homework desk, then they’re being denied a fair chance in life.’

• Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, in his pre-Budget speech on Thursday, said that if there was ‘a rosy picture of progress since the Autumn Statement … why is the government continuing to pursue spending cuts?

The ‘real story’, he continued, is ‘low investment over many decades has led to a low-productivity, low-wage economy’, where ‘insecure and poorly-paid work dominates new job creation’, which in turn ‘means that the tax base needed to secure our public services is less stable’.

The tax base has been further undermined by ‘decisions by this government to provide tax giveaways for the super-rich and giant corporations’. McDonnell maintained that: ‘This model is not sustainable,’ proven by the fact that ‘The Conservatives will soon have added three quarters of a trillion pounds to the national debt since they arrived in office.

‘At the same time, they will have imposed the first spending cuts on schools for forty years’ and ‘an NHS in a state of profound crisis’. McDonnell declared: ‘Local authorities in particular have had to cope with the most extraordinarily sharp funding cuts.’ He predicted that: ‘They will not sustain a further round of spending cuts.

‘So when the Treasury casually announces that it is looking for a further 6% of funding cuts to some government departments, as they did this week, it is an act of gross irresponsibility. And the comments today from the head of the Care Quality Commission that the NHS “stands on a burning platform” have driven home the scale of the crisis.

‘Cuts to social care, amounting to £4.5bn since 2010, have brought the system to the brink of collapse. Over 1m vulnerable elderly people, including many who are very frail, now lack access to the care they need.’

He said: ‘The slump in living standards overseen by this Tory government is the worst this country has experienced since the Industrial Revolution.’ McDonnell continued: ‘The average household will be £5,000 worse off by the end of this Parliament than they might have expected …

‘The Chancellor must reverse the £70bn giveaway to the super-rich and giant corporations between now and 2021. And the cruel £3.7bn cut to Personal Independence Payment for disabled people must be halted.’ McDonnell pledged: ‘Labour will bring in a £10-an-hour Real Living Wage to make sure work always pays fairly.’ He added: ‘We will reverse Tory privatisation, by renationalising the NHS.’

He continued: ‘Labour is committed to delivering one million new houses, and building a new generation of council housing … The railways will be renationalised by Labour. But we’ll also introduce a “Right to Own” for workers, giving them first refusal on taking control of companies undergoing a change of ownership …

‘We’ll also introduce a fair pay ratio to stop top bosses paying themselves excessively … The public sector pay cap will be lifted … We’ll repeal the Trade Union Act. And of course we’ll halt the austerity cuts to in-work benefits and payments to people with disabilities …

‘The next Labour government will break the cartel of the Big 6 energy suppliers, creating the conditions for local, decentralised, low-carbon energy by supporting local authorities and co-operatives.’


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