New PM Boris Johnson makes education funding pledge

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Giving his first speech as Prime Minister outside Downing Street after visiting the Queen, Mr Johnson promised to put education and schools at the top of his domestic agenda, and fix the crisis in social care.

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Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, the then early years minister, in 2013. Ms Truss backed him to be PM and has been widely tipped for a Cabinet post

He said, 'My job is to make sure your kids get a superb education wherever they are in the country.

'And that's why we have already announced that we are going to level up per-pupil funding in primary and secondary schools.'

Mr Johnson is expected to start naming his Cabinet from this evening, including who will be education secretary.

BREAKING NEWS: Damian Hinds has quit as education secretary

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As mayor of London, the new Prime Minister spoke of the need to encourage schools to allow more childcare on site to ease the shortage in the capital and announced an £8m fund to this effect. He was also accused of burying a report linking poor air quality with schools in deprived areas while mayor.

The early years sector is calling on Boris Johnson to deal with the chronic underfunding of 30-hour childcare, while teaching unions are urging him to act on pledges he has made to deal with funding in schools.

National Day Nurseries Association chief executive Purnima Tanuku urged the new Government to deal with the funding crisis in nurseries.

‘Staff are leaving and nurseries are closing,' she said. ‘There will be many policy challenges for the Government to address but this issue needs attention at the highest level from the new Prime Minister and his new Cabinet team.

‘The first years of a child’s life are crucial to what they will then go on to achieve and we cannot keep short-changing nurseries and early years providers.

‘The offer from the Government isn’t free to parents or providers and without urgent investment, efforts to improve quality will be undermined.

‘We are urging the new Government to address the chronic underfunding of their flagship 30 hours policy before more damage is done.’

The NEU with the f40 local authorities group, ASCL and NAHT has published a complete assessment of the extra funding needed to reverse the school cuts made in recent years.

It is proposing an immediate increase of £3 billion in order to restore half of the £5.9bn current funding loss, followed by a 3.5 per cent real-terms increase every year for the next six years.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said, ‘Schools need more than promises on the side of a bus. Schools need real money for real children in real schools now.

'During his campaign Boris Johnson announced £4.6bn by 2022/23, an £8bn shortfall in what is needed. Most alarmingly there is no mention of the crisis in special needs education in his school funding plan and there is no mention of the pensions black hole that will add £1.5bn to school costs. These are terrible and damaging oversights.

'It is vital that Boris Johnson looks again at his proposals and takes heed of our broad coalition’s comprehensive analysis. It is clear he and his party still do not fully understand the scale of the crisis facing schools. The needs of schools will grow significantly by 2022/23 because of the large rise in pupil numbers and higher school costs.  Unfortunately, the sums he is proposing are not sufficient to cope with this – so, as he said himself, it’s time to end the leadership campaign slogans and begin the real hard work.'

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT said, ‘We welcome Mr Johnson’s decision to make education spending one of his top priorities, but his maths are off by quite a long way, so we’d urge him to sit down for a chat with us immediately so we can help him understand what’s really required.

‘What schools and colleges need is an immediate multi-billion-pound emergency investment, plus a long-term commitment to education funding. By our calculations, £3bn of new money from the Treasury is needed right away to prevent any more of the damaging cuts to staffing, facilities and subjects that have been made.'

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