‘THE government plans the biggest real-term cuts in school funding since at least the late 1970s,’ warns the National Union of Teachers.
The NUT has submitted its response to the first stage of government consultation on the imposition of a national funding formula for schools and other changes to the school funding system in England. The union highlights the need for funding reform to be on the basis of: no reduction in funding for any area; a comprehensive assessment of the resources our schools really need; unconstrained by the current inadequate levels of funding; and proper local democracy and accountability on school funding decisions.
Expressing the union’s cuts fears, NUT deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney said: ‘The consequences of this are disastrous for education. As many schools are already cutting back on staffing and resources and also increasing class sizes, more cuts cannot be sustained.’
He added: ‘The government is making a deliberate political choice to slash education funding in real terms and to remove local democratic oversight of education by forcing all schools to become academies. It is an absolute scandal that the Education Secretary is content to preside over such inadequate funding policies for our schools. Children deserve the best start in life that schools can provide. Forcing schools to scrape by is simply not good enough.’
Commenting on the primary school place offers received by parents today (Monday), NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: ‘Britain is facing the worst shortage of school places, particularly primary places, for decades. This is resulting in overcrowded and makeshift classrooms, primary schools expanding beyond an optimum size, and children having to travel further to school.
‘Local authorities no longer have the power to plan and build new maintained schools and the government’s free school programme has created schools in areas where there is often no need. If the government is allowed to convert all schools to academies, the school places crisis will get significantly worse. This is an entirely chaotic and unworkable approach to school places provision.’
Nansi Ellis, assistant general secretary at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: ‘We fear parents will find it even harder to get their child into a school of their choice, especially if they are trying to get all their children into the same school, if all schools become academies.
‘We are worried that increased competition for school places will further exacerbate the social segregation in schools, with wealthier parents able to buy properties closest to favoured schools and children from poorer families being squeezed out and concentrated in the less popular schools.’