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We have a message for Hammond and Hinds: Enough is enough

The NEU will be applying maximum pressure to ensure the school funding deficit is addressed in the next Budget, says MARY BOUSTED

WE’VE got three weeks until the Budget on October 29. The funding crisis in our schools is reaching breaking point. Representing the majority of head teacher and teachers in England, ASCL, NAHT and NEU are bringing together the teaching profession to demand our schools and colleges are properly funded. 

Ahead of the Chancellor’s Budget we are asking in our joint video that will be sent to all members that teachers and head teachers take the simple action of jointly writing to their MP urging them to put pressure on Education Secretary Damian Hinds to ensure the shortfall in funding is addressed.  

The current underfunding of our schools is putting children’s futures at risk. Cuts to the curriculum, school activities, school hours and teacher and support staff are commonplace and noticeably diminishing children and young people’s educational experience. 

The teacher and leader recruitment and retention crisis continues. Yet for the first time in 27 years the government is refusing to fully fund and implement the School Teacher Review Body’s recommended pay increases. 

Hinds has cut back the recommended increase for 60 per cent of teachers and schools will have to pay the first 1 per cent. The cost of this will put many schools into serious deficit.   

If the Budget does not address these issues we will be jointly consulting members on the next steps to get the funding schools need to give the education our children deserve.

There will not be one MP in the land that has not heard or seen the impact serious underfunding of our schools is having in their constituency. 

We are asking them to support the head teachers, teachers and support staff in their area who have a clear message to the Education Secretary and the Chancellor: enough is enough.

The warnings to the DfE from the UK Statistics Authority about the use of misleading figures on school funding must be the final wake-up call to the government.  

There is no point in trying to hide the facts. Schools and sixth form colleges cannot go on in this way, with funds being drained from them and their pleas for money to ensure every child gets a fair chance at education falling on deaf ears.  

The National Education Union has been warning for some time that education funding is in crisis.  

Respected organisations such as the Education Policy Institute (EPI) and the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) have confirmed the difficulties facing schools.   

Figures published by the IFS confirm that school budgets have declined by 8 per cent in England since 2010, and by 5 per cent for schools in Wales over the same period. 

There is a shortfall in funding of £2 billion a year in real terms compared to three years ago, cuts to 16-19 funding have been devastating and the cost of running schools is rising higher than inflation.  

We have 66,000 more pupils in schools since last year, yet there are 5,400 fewer teachers, 2,800 fewer teaching assistants, 1,400 fewer support staff and 1,200 fewer auxiliary staff.  

The government itself is the source of many of the increases in costs facing schools, as well as the increases in workload facing teacher and school leaders.

DfE ministers know all of this, yet are wasting their time inventing ways to try to convince the public otherwise.

This month, 2,000 head teachers descended on Downing Street to get their message across: that funding cuts have left some schools in the position where they are cutting subjects from the curriculum, increasing class sizes, cutting school trips and after-school clubs, cutting teachers and support staff and leaving buildings in disrepair. 

This is an awful way to be running an education system and a far cry from the “world-class” system that Hinds and Theresa May so often speak about. 

Head teachers, teachers, support staff and parents will be heartened to hear that the government’s use of figures has been challenged.  

The time has come for government to address school funding seriously. Failure to do so will cost many children and young people the education they should expect and deserve. 

Parents will not forget the cuts that schools have had to make and the impact this has had on their children’s education.

Dr Mary Bousted is joint general secretary of the National Education Union.

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