Budget: Education unions throw down the gauntlet

Heads vow that teachers 'will continue to make their voices heard' on funding until the Treasury provides more money

Education unions have set chancellor six 'tests' for tomorrow's budget

Education unions have set out six “tests” for the chancellor as he prepares to unveil his Autumn Budget tomorrow.

The NEU teaching union, NAHT headteachers’ union and the Association of School and College Leaders have come together to demand that Philip Hammond comes up with more money for education.

Their demands include giving all teachers the full 3.5 per cent pay rise recommended by the government's independent teacher pay review body, providing the money to cover this, and increasing funding for parts of the country that have historically been underfunded.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said schools had been “catastrophically let down” by the government, adding: “What they will not stand for on Monday is yet more smoke and mirrors.”

Budget 'must provide more cash for schools'

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT, warned that school funding is “still a doorstep issue for voters” and said that school leaders, governors, parents and others “will continue to make their voices heard” until the Treasury provides more money.

ASCL general secretary Geoff Barton added: “Unless the chancellor takes urgent action now over the education funding crisis, the vital work that schools and colleges do will be increasingly eroded along with the life chances of all our children and young people.”

The six tests, as described by the unions, are:

  1. Reverse school cuts now: This academic year is beginning with more cuts to educational provision and more cuts to staffing in schools. The government’s announcement must ensure that every school is guaranteed at least the same money per pupil in real terms next year as when it took office in 2015.

  2. New money from the Treasury: Existing government plans mean real-terms cuts in funding and cuts in education provision. The government must announce genuinely new money for schools, not money taken from other areas of education spending. At least £2.8 billion more is required every year just to maintain funding in real terms in the face of inflation, cost increases and rising pupil numbers.

  3. High-needs, early years and post-16 education fairly funded: Politicians will try to focus simply on schools’ core funding. Funding must also be increased for “high-needs” pupils, early years pupils and post-16 students, who have suffered even bigger cuts since 2010.

  4. A five-year funding plan: Schools need to be able to plan for the future. With pupil numbers rising and costs increasing, they need to know how much money they will receive. Funding must be announced and guaranteed for at least the next five years.

  5. Historic underfunding addressed: Schools in historically underfunded areas must receive extra money through a process of levelling up with better-funded areas. Fair funding won't be achieved by taking money away from some schools to give to other schools. There must be enough new money to make a difference for every pupil, wherever they live.
  6. All pay rises fully implemented and fully funded: The government must implement the recommendations of the School Teachers’ Review Body in full. The cost of all pay awards and pay agreements for school teachers, sixth-form college teachers and support staff must be fully funded by the government, so that schools and colleges are not forced to make cuts in order to implement pay rises for staff.
     

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.

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