DAVID Cameron is misleading parents and the public on school funding, says the National Union of Teachers (NUT).
Commenting on Cameron’s statement on school funding during Prime Minister’s questions on Wednesday, NUT deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney said: ‘David Cameron at PMQs today said that he was protecting pupil funding.
‘This is hugely misleading to parents and the public. According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS), over the next few years schools in England will lose 8% or more of their real-terms funding due to inflation and higher costs.
‘This will be the largest real-terms fall over any period since at least the late 1970s. This cut is equivalent to the loss of £1.6bn from annual school funding which would be sufficient to employ 31,000 teachers, or over 93,000 classroom assistants.
‘A large proportion of the extra costs schools are facing are directly due to the government. Whilst freezing per pupil spending, the government is increasing the amount of money that schools have to pay to the Treasury – in the form of extra National Insurance and pension contributions.
‘This is not protecting pupil funding – it is a huge cut to education. For the government at the same time to say it is prepared to spend £500m on fees associated with forcing all schools to become academies is disgraceful. None of that money will be spent on educating our children.’
Cameron had claimed: ‘We have seen massive improvements in our schools because of academies and we say let’s get on with it, finish the job and give all our children a great opportunity.’
He made his claim despite severe criticism of the Department for Education’s (DfE’s) accounts by financial watchdog, the National Audit Office. The NAO report warns: ‘The department’s policy of autonomy for academies brings with it significant risks if the financial capability of the department and academies are not strengthened.
‘And the financial statements do not present a true and fair view and meet the accountability requirements of Parliament. This will become even more significant in the context of the planned expansion of the academy sector.’
NAO head Amyas Morse said: ‘Providing Parliament with a clear view of academy trusts’ spending is a vital part of the Department for Education’s work, yet it is failing to do this.’