Westminster rally aims to maintain pressure on ministers over school funding

16th July 2017 at 00:01
Department for Education says it will respond to consultation on national funding formula 'in due course'

Parents, pupils, teachers and school leaders are set to take to the streets of Westminster today to keep up the pressure on ministers over school funding.

Dubbed a "carnival against the cuts", organisers described the event in Parliament Square as a “family-friendly protest featuring speakers, songs, arts and kids’ fun”.

School funding became a key topic in the general election campaign, with many headteachers warning parents that they faced real-terms cuts due to rising funding pressures, and, in some cases, the effect of the proposed national funding formula.

The Conservative manifesto pledged that no schools would see their budgets cut as a result of the formula.

But an analysis by the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies found that the Conservative pledge to increase the overall school budget by £4 billion by 2022 would equate to a real-terms cut in spending per pupil of 2.8 per cent between 2017-18 and 2021-22

Meanwhile, an analysis by polling company Survation suggested that about 750,000 votes could have been swung by the issue.

'An urgent remedy is needed'

Jo Yurky, co-founder of Fair Funding for All Schools, said: “We will continue to apply pressure to force the government to provide an urgent remedy. We want increased investment in our schools so that our young people have the skills and knowledge they need and so that our future economy can reach its full potential.”

Speakers at the event are due to include Laura Smith MP, a parent campaigner who was elected as Labour MP for Crewe and Nantwich, and Paul Whiteman, the general secretary designate of the NAHT heads' union.

He is expected to say: “The NAHT has been saying that school budgets have been at breaking point for more than two years. NUT and ATL [teaching unions] have been saying the same thing. Seven out of 10 school leaders are saying that their budgets will be unsustainable by the 2019 academic year.

“What happens to our children’s futures without proper funding for schools? It is a gamble that we cannot afford to take.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The core schools budget has been protected in real terms since 2010 and is set to rise from £41 billion in 2017-18 to over £42 billion in 2019-20 with increasing pupil numbers.

“But we recognise that schools are facing cost pressures and will continue to provide support to help them use their funding in cost-effective ways.

“We have also consulted on a national formula for schools to make funding fairer. We received over 25,000 responses to the consultation, which we are analysing in detail and will respond to in due course.”

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