Almost half the British public thinks that more money should be spent on education, a new survey has found.
The survey of more than 1,700 adults revealed that 45 per cent wanted the Government to spend more on education over the next five years. This took into account “the way in which expenditure is funded by taxation, borrowing or reductions in other spending”.
The poll, conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Teacher Support Network, also found that 40 per cent of voters thought that the government should continue with existing levels of education spending. Only four per cent thought that the amount being spent on education should be cut.
“You might expect teachers to want to spend more on education,” said Julian Stanley, chief executive of the Teacher Support Network. “But this is not just teachers.”
Support for spending on education was particularly high among those who had not long ago been its beneficiaries. Fifty-three per cent of those aged between 18 and 24 wanted to see an increase in education spending: a higher proportion than among any other age group.
The Conservatives have announced that they will maintain per-pupil funding at current levels, but will not increase it with inflation. They claim that because of rising pupil numbers, schools will receive more money.
However, the survey found that 54 per cent of those who voted Conservative in the 2010 election wanted the government to continue spending the same amount on education in real-terms after inflation has been taken into account.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats have pledged to protect funding for education in line with inflation. The poll showed that 55 per cent of 2010 Labour voters believed that the government should increase its spending on education.
Mr Stanley was surprised by these findings. “We felt there’d be very little, in terms of debate about education spending,” he said. “We thought it was seen as a finite cake – part of austerity measures.”
But, he added, cutting education spending would prove a false economy. “Well-paid, well-valued teachers are more likely to stay in the profession,” he said. “We need to make sure that, when we think about well-being, it isn’t a fluffy subject.
“Actually, having well-cared-for teachers in an education establishment means less staff sickness and more interaction with pupils, and that means better retention of teachers. When you invest in training a teacher and then they leave after four or five years, that’s a massive waste of talent.”
Read the Teacher Support Network's education manifesto for 2015-2020 here.
Cameron: schools will face real-terms funding cuts under Tories - 2 February 2015
Miliband: Labour will protect the overall education budget - 12 February 2015
Clegg pledges to protect school budgets against inflation - 12 February 2015