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Most MPs 'think schools face a funding crisis'

MPs generally follow party lines on school funding – but one in six Conservatives accept there is a crisis, a poll shows

More than half of MPs accept that schools are facing a funding crisis

MPs generally follow party lines on school funding – but one in six Conservatives accept there is a crisis, a poll shows

The majority of MPs believe that schools are in the grip of a funding crisis, a new survey reveals.

In a poll of 151 MPs, just over half (54 per cent) said they believed schools were in a funding crisis while a third (33 per cent) did not accept this.

The survey, carried out by the NAHT headteachers' union and ComRes, also shows a clear split along party lines, with the majority of Labour MPs saying there was a crisis and the majority of Conservatives saying there wasn't.

However, one in six Tory MPs questioned did accept that schools were in a financial crisis.

The government is facing mounting pressure to increase funding after schools have faced real-terms cuts.

Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary, said the poll results showed that the sector was winning the argument.

He said: “School leaders know there is a funding crisis in schools because they see the devastating effects of it every day; on the quality of children’s education, on teachers and staff, on school buildings and resources, and on their own mental health as they struggle to balance the books.

'Put pressure on chancellor for more schools funding'

"But after years of warnings, school leaders have concluded that they are simply being ignored by government.

“This survey shows otherwise. We are winning the argument on school funding.

"It was a key election issue for parents and voters, and now we see that MPs themselves mostly recognise the problem.

"The question is: what are they going to do about it? Only new money from the Treasury can solve the funding crisis in schools, and we need MPs from every party to put pressure on the chancellor and Number 10."

The  survey shows:

  • More than half (54 per cent) of MPs agreed that there was a funding crisis in schools;
  • Just a third (33 per cent) of MPs disagreed that there was a funding crisis in schools;
  • More MPs strongly agreed that there was a funding crisis (35 per cent) than strongly disagreed (7 per cent);
  • Nearly all (96 per cent) Labour MPs agreed that there was a funding crisis in schools, compared with one in six (16 per cent of) Conservative MPs;
  • Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of Conservative MPs disagreed that there was a school funding crisis, compared with just 1 per cent of Labour MPs.

The data has been released today as both MPs and peers debate education funding and standards in Westminster.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Children only have one chance at an education – they all deserve the best. Since 2017, we have given every local authority more money for every pupil in every school, while allocating the biggest increases to the schools that have been most underfunded.

“While there is more money going into our schools than ever before, we recognise the budgeting challenges schools face and that we are asking them to do more. That’s why we’re supporting schools and head teachers to make the most of every pound.”

Two months ago, about 2,000 headteachers marched on Downing Street – twice the number expected – in a protest over school funding.

A petition and letter were delivered to chancellor Philip Hammond highlighting “rising costs, school budgets on the edge of viability and an inability to recruit and then afford adequate numbers of teaching and support staff”.

Last month the government provoked anger from school leaders after announcing extra capital funding to help schools pay for "little extras" in the Budget.

And last week schools minister Lord Agnew bet headteachers a bottle of champagne that he could find savings in their schools.

Mr Whiteman said it was "especially interesting" that one-in-six Tory MPs agreed there was a school funding crisis, despite their party being in government.

The poll questioned 151 MPs during October. 

The data is said to be weighted by party and region to be representative of the House of Commons.


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