A headteachers’ union has told politicians vying to be the next prime minister that the current funding levels for schools are having a devastating impact on children’s life chances.
The Association of School and College Leaders has written to 11 Conservative leadership candidates setting out the need for action on funding, improving recruitment and retention and reducing the pressure faced by school staff and pupils.
Education has become a key issue in the race to be next prime minister, with Matt Hancock, Boris Johnson and former education secretary Michael Gove all setting out plans for school funding.
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Now ASCL has explained what it thinks the education priorities should be for the next prime minister.
In a letter published today ASCL’s general secretary Geoff Barton said: “The current level of funding is simply not sufficient to enable schools and colleges to provide the education to which our children and young people are entitled.
"This lack of investment is woefully shortsighted and is having a devastating impact on children’s life chances. Standards in education have unquestionably improved over the past 30 years but this progress is being put at risk by the austerity agenda.”
ASCL produced analysis earlier this year suggesting schools need £5.7 billion more.
Mr Barton welcomes the Department for Education’s teacher recruitment and retention strategy as a significant step forward.
However, his letter adds: “The fact remains that we are already in the midst of a crisis with severe teacher shortages in many subjects just as the secondary school population is rising.”
The letter also highlights concerns about the pressure put on pupils.
Mr Barton said: “We need to take a step back and imagine what a system would look like where there is a greater emphasis on supporting schools and colleges, and less focus on punishing them, and where we tailor qualifications to suit the aspirations and aptitudes of young people in the 21st century, instead of forcing them to negotiate a series of cliff edges in a restrictive diet of subjects.”
The letter has been sent to the candidates who have so far confirmed to stand in the leadership contest: Mr Gove, Sam Gyimah, Mr Hancock, Mark Harper, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Mr Johnson, Andrea Leadsom, Esther McVey, Dominic Raab, and Rory Stewart.