Giving schools enough money to 'make ends meet' to be debated by MPs

Debate called after more than 70,000 sign petition demanding school-funding increase

Keegan: FE white paper to offer 'vision' for sector

A debate on school funding is set to take place in Parliament on 4 March after a petition was signed by more than 70,000 people.

The petition calls for an increase in funding and cites schools being forced to cut back on staff and support for vulnerable pupils, as well as subject choices, activities and repairs to buildings.

It states: “Schools are having to make difficult choices on how to spend their limited funding, as their income has not kept pace with the rise in costs since 2010.

“All schools are working very hard to make ends meet, but this is becoming increasingly difficult and verging on almost impossible.”

MPs will debate the petition in Westminster Hall. The petition states that schools have had to cut back on:

  • Small-group work for children who are not thriving in school.
  • Teaching resources, with parents being asked to pay for books and materials.
  • Extracurricular activities.
  • Renewal of equipment.

As reported in Tes, about 2,000 headteachers marched on Downing Street last September in a protest at funding levels, while unions are currently considering action over the “funding crisis”.

The Department for Education has responded to the petition by claiming that there is “more money going into schools than ever before”.

It cited figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies that show that, in 2020, per-pupil funding for five- to 16-year-olds, adjusted for inflation, will be 50 per cent higher than in 2000 and 70 per cent higher than in 1990.

A spokesperson said: “Since 2017, the national funding formula has allocated every local authority more money for every pupil in every school, while allocating the largest increases to the schools that have been most underfunded.

“Despite all of this, we do recognise that budgets remain tight. That is why we are supporting schools and headteachers to make the most of their budgets and reduce costs on things like energy, water bills and materials.”

Jules White, head of Tanbridge House School, West Sussex, and coordinator of the Worth Less? campaign for more school funding, said: "If the DfE simply trots out the usual half-truths, they will be savaged by MPs of all colours who are fed up seeing their schools treated so poorly, with vulnerable and SEND [special educational needs and disability] students often bearing the brunt.

"School funding is a doorstep issue that will not go away and parents will not be fobbed off with reactive, piecemeal announcements."

The Petitions Committee (the group of MPs that oversee the petitions system) met recently and considered the government’s response to the petition. They felt that the response did not directly address the request of the petition and have written back to the government to request a revised response.

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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