Schools 'beyond breaking point' get no new money from the chancellor

Pleas from cash-strapped school leaders for more government funding fall on deaf ears – but new money for grammar schools is confirmed in today's autumn statement

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School leaders who warned that their budgets were at "breaking point" have expressed their disappointment after the chancellor failed to provide any extra funding.

Philip Hammond used today’s autumn statement – the first since the Brexit referendum – to announce new money for affordable homes, more funding for science and an increase in the national living wage to £7.50 an hour from next April.

But in his speech he made no education commitments, apart from confirming previously announced new capital funding for grammar schools.

Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the statement "failed to address the severe funding pressures in schools and colleges".

"The situation is so serious that some are struggling to deliver a full curriculum, courses are having to be cut and some sixth forms are closing. Education is arguably the single most important investment we can make. It provides the country’s intellectual infrastructure; the knowledge and skills which will enable us to remain competitive in a global market," he said.

'No protection at all'

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers' union, said school budgets were “being pushed beyond breaking point", and said investment in grammar schools was "the wrong priority".

He said: "Almost nine out of 10 school leaders are telling us that a rise in national insurance employer contributions and pension contributions are the key reasons behind financial pressures in their school. Freezing budgets at a time of rising costs is no protection at all. The government has the levers to address rising costs, but has again failed to pull them. In fact, with the new apprenticeship levy it is taking yet more money out of schools."

In September, Prime Minister Theresa May pledged £50 million to help existing grammar schools expand.

Treasury documents released this afternoon said: "As part of the government’s ambitious plans to ensure every child has access to a good school place, the prime minister has announced plans to allow the expansion of selective education in England.

"The government will provide £50 million of new capital funding to support the expansion of existing grammar schools in each year from 2017-18, and has set out proposals for further reforms in the consultation document 'Schools that Work for Everyone'."

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