Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner has accused the government of telling “lies” and misleading the public about the state of school funding.
“There have been lies and [officials] trying to tell people not the full truth,” Ms Rayner told an event at the Houses of Parliament to promote the Save Our Schools campaign (SOS), which is lobbying for an end to education funding cuts.
“So when they say there’s more money going into schools, there are [also] more pupils in schools [and] there are more costs for schools. So the net effect is [that] £2.7 billion…has been taken out of our schools since 2015.”
This week, the UK’s statistics watchdog gave education secretary Damian Hinds and his department a dressing down for using exaggerated and misleading statistics on school funding and pupil achievement.
Earlier on Wednesday, prime minister Theresa May rejected a call from opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn to give all teachers a 3.5 per cent pay rise this year.
She also reiterated a figure queried by the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) that 1.9 million more children now study in "good" and "outstanding" schools compared with 2010.
Speaking at the side of the SOS event, at which sometimes tearful children and parents recounted how the squeeze on school funding was hurting their communities, Ms Rayner said the government was misleading voters.
"Theresa May has run out of ideas and she doesn't even know what's going on in our classrooms," she told Tes.
"I think it's outrageous that she's using figures that the UK stats authority have told the Department for Education are [being] used inaccurately and in the wrong context. She's misleading the public."
Ahead of the SOS event, a spokesperson for the DfE said the government was committed to ensuring high standards, and pointed to studies showing that funding for 5- to 16-year-olds was being maintained.
"We recognise that there is more pressure on schools to do more, which is why we have taken a number of steps to help them get the best value for every pound," the spokesperson added.