School funding is a 'national emergency', MPs say

MPs describe headteachers' 'shame' at having to make 'painful' cuts during school funding debate

School funding debate

MPs have described the school funding situation as a "national emergency" that is forcing headteachers to make "impossible choices".

A debate was held this afternoon on the issue, after a Parliamentary petition to increase school funding attracted over 100,000 signatures. 

Liz Twist, the Labour MP for Blaydon, opened the debate in a packed Westminster Hall.

Describing the "impossible choices" facing schools, she read out a quote from a head in her constituency, who said: “I feel every cut I have to make. Well concealed, painfully made, shamefully felt."

Ms Twist also read out correspondence she had received from a parent, whose child felt unable to go to the toilet at school because the facilities were so "dilapidated".

School funding pressures

“A regular topic of conversation in our house is how disgusting the school toilets are. It’s not that they’re not cleaned. They’re so old and dilapidated, they’re beyond looking nice. There’s no spare money to replace them, nor has there been for many years... my daughter regularly runs straight to the loo after school, after holding it in all day, rather than use the toilets."

Tim Loughton, a Conservative MP who used to be a Department for Education minister, said that school funding was a "national emergency"

He said that a 2 per cent pay rise for teachers would "have a very serious effect on already fragile budgets" if the government did not make extra funding available to cover it. 

“Schools have taken all their surplus expenditure out of the system over many, many years,” he said.

Seema Malhotra, the Labour MP for Feltham and Heston, said that "pressures and demands" being felt by special educational needs and "the most vulnerable" pupils "could become the next national issue in the same way that adult social care has been a crisis".

And Heidi Allen, who last month defected from the Conservatives to join The Independent Group of MPs, said: “We risk our teachers in this most needed profession being too exhausted and stressed to cope with the additional pressures workload puts on them, and we risk alienating them from the profession altogether.”

The government responded to the petition by saying: "We recognise schools are facing budgeting challenges and we are asking them to do more. We have increased funding by an extra £1.3 billion across this year and next, over and above previous spending plans."

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