Spring Statement: Unions call on Chancellor to guarantee schools' funding

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The School Cuts Coalition has called on the Government to address the ‘crisis’ in school funding ahead of the Chancellor’s Spring Statement today (Wednesday).

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The coalition of unions, which includes the National Education Union (NEU), UNISON, GMB and Unite, has set out six ‘tests’ for any new announcements by the Government on school and college funding.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said, ‘School funding is indisputably in a state of crisis. Teachers tell us of having to buy resources such as glue sticks, towels and text books out of their own money as the school simply does not have the funds for such essential items.

'We know cost saving cuts to support staff and teachers are impacting greatly on all children and in particular children with special educational needs and disability. This is simply not acceptable and needs to be addressed by the Chancellor in his Spring Statement. Our children and young people deserve better.’

The coalition’s demands, which it says any new announcement must meet in order to guarantee sufficient funding for the future, include fair funding for early years  and continued funding of maintained nurseries. They are:

Reverse school cuts now: Every school should be guaranteed at least the same money per pupil in real terms next year as when the Government took office in 2015.

New money from the Treasury:
The Government must commit to new money for schools, not money taken from other areas of education spending. At least £2.2bn should be pledged to restore funding in the face of inflation, cost increases and rising pupil numbers.

High needs, early years and post-16 education fairly funded:
Funding must be increased for ‘high needs’ pupils, early years pupils and post-16 students, not just focused on schools’ core funding. This must also ensure continued funding of maintained nurseries.

A long-term funding plan:
The Chancellor must make a commitment that funding will be announced and guaranteed for the next ten years.

Historic underfunding addressed:
Schools in historically underfunded areas should receive extra money through a process of levelling up with better funded areas, not by taking money away from some schools to give to others. 

All pay rises and pension increases fully implemented and fully funded: The Government must make a commitment to implement the independent recommendations of the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB). The cost of all pay awards and pay agreements for school teachers, sixth form college teachers, and support staff must be fully funded so schools and colleges are not forced to make cuts in order to implement pay rises for staff.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said, ‘The Spring Statement must offer more than “little extras” and contain the improved funding that schools and colleges need and pupils deserve. The current level of funding is totally inadequate and this is putting at risk hard-won educational standards.’

National secretary of GMB Rehana Azam added, ‘This Conservative Government is underfunding our children’s education year after year. These savage cuts mean a generation of young people are being let down because their basic education needs are not met. At a time when thousands if not millions of children are set to lose out on their free school meals, it is abundantly clear this Government doesn’t stand by all children from all backgrounds - just the privileged few.’

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