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Educators challenge Hammond to give schools fair share

EDUCATION unions have warned Chancellor Philip Hammond that his Spring Statement must contain more than just “dribs and drabs” for schools after years of underfunding.

The School Cuts Coalition of unions urged Mr Hammond to address the “national emergency” faced by schools and colleges due to a lack of funding in his statement to Parliament today.

Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Geoff Barton branded the current level of funding “totally inadequate” and National Association of Head Teachers general secretary Paul Whiteman said school budgets are at “absolute breaking point.”

GMB national secretary Rehana Azam warned that the “savage cuts” meant that a generation of young people were being let down because their basic educational needs are not being met.

“At a time when thousands, if not millions, of children are set to lose out on their free school meals, it is abundantly clear this government doesn’t stand by all children from all backgrounds — just the privileged few,” she said.

National Education Union joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said school funding was “indisputably in a state of crisis.”

He said: “Teachers tell us of having to buy resources such as glue sticks, towels and textbooks out of their own money, as the school simply does not have the funds for such essential items.

“We know cost-saving cuts to support staff and teachers are impacting greatly on all children and in particular children with special educational needs and disability.”

This was “simply not acceptable,” Mr Courtney stressed, adding that children and young people deserve better.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said axing support staff risks “blighting” children’s futures, while Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail demanded that ministers “stop burying their heads in the sand”and properly invest in children and young peoples’ development.

In order to guarantee sufficient funding, the coalition said the announcement must pass six tests, including reversing previous cuts, committing to “genuinely” new money for schools — rather than funding taken from other areas in education — and increasing funding for “high needs” pupils, early years and post-16 students.

The six unions also insisted that Mr Hammond’s statement must provide a long-term funding plan allowing schools to prepare for the future, provide historically underfunded areas with extra money and implement and fully fund pay rises and pension increases.

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