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Spring Statement: Unions set out six tests on education funding

School Cuts Coalition demands more money for schools and wants government to fully fund pay and pensions increases

Unions have set out six tests on education funding for Philip Hammond's Spring Statement.

School Cuts Coalition demands more money for schools and wants government to fully fund pay and pensions increases

Education unions are demanding that the chancellor's Spring Statement today addresses the "crisis" faced by schools and colleges due to a lack of funding.

The Treasury says the statement is not a "fiscal event", and it is not, therefore, expected to contain major spending announcements or tax changes.

However, the School Cuts Coalition has set out six tests for Philip Hammond to apply to any new announcements, in order to guarantee sufficient funding for the future.

They include reversing school cuts, and guaranteeing at least the same money per pupil in real terms next year as when the government took office in 2015.

Call for more school funding

The coalition is made up of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the GMB, the NAHT headteachers’ union, the NEU teaching union and Unison.

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Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL, said: "The spring statement must offer more than 'little extras' and contain the improved funding that schools and colleges need and pupils deserve.”

The six tests, as set out by the coalition of unions, are as follows:

  1. “Reverse school cuts now: The next academic year will begin with more cuts to educational provision and more cuts to staffing in schools unless the government acts now to ensure that every school is guaranteed at least the same money per pupil in real terms next year as when it took office in 2015.”
  2. “New money from the Treasury: Existing government plans mean real-terms cuts in funding and cuts in education provision.  The government must commit to genuinely new money for schools, not money taken from other areas of education spending. At least £2.2 billion more is required to restore funding in real terms in the face of inflation, cost increases and rising pupil numbers."
  3. “High needs, early years and post-16 education fairly funded: Politicians will try to focus simply on schools’ core funding. Funding must also be increased for 'high-needs' pupils, early years pupils and post-16 students, who have suffered even bigger cuts since 2010. This must ensure continued funding of maintained nurseries.”
  4. “A long-term funding plan: Schools need to be able to plan for the future.  With pupil numbers rising and costs increasing, they need to know how much money they will receive. The chancellor must make a commitment that funding will be announced and guaranteed for the next 10 years.”
  5. “Historic underfunding addressed: Schools in historically underfunded areas must receive extra money through a process of levelling up with better-funded areas. Fair funding won't be achieved by taking money away from some schools to give to other schools. There must be enough new money to make a difference for every pupil, wherever they live.”
  6. “All pay rises and pension increases fully implemented and fully funded: The government must make a commitment now that it will implement the independent recommendations of the School Teachers’ Review Body in full. The cost of all pay awards and pay agreements for school teachers, sixth-form college teachers and support staff must be fully funded by the government, so that schools and colleges are not forced to make cuts in order to implement pay rises for staff.”

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.

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