Budget fails to help most children and young people’s education
Commenting on the Budget, Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: “The Government has failed to consider the needs of the majority of children and young people in not increasing the funding for all state schools.
“Parents and children will be deeply disappointed that the Chancellor has not taken this opportunity to put more money into the National Funding Formula, which would be the best way to improve social mobility and ensure all children get a good education. Putting more money into free schools and grammar schools will not benefit most children and is a costly way of providing extra school places.
“Despite the Government’s claims of many ‘winners’ from its proposed National Funding Formula, around 98% of schools face real-terms cuts in funding for every pupil (see our joint union website www.schoolcuts.org.uk). Head teachers are already having to increase class sizes, which is taking teachers’ workloads to breaking point and diminishing the amount of attention for each pupil. Schools do not have enough in their budgets to provide enough text books, IT equipment, and extra-curricular activities and are being forced to look at cutting staff.
“The extra £216 million for school buildings will only go a small way towards funding the £6.7 billion the National Audit Office says is needed to return all school buildings to at least a satisfactory condition.
“We look forward to working with ministers on their plans for school sport and healthy living education following the Chancellor’s commitment to provide the full amount originally forecast to be brought in by the sugar levy.
“But the Government has done nothing to address the crisis in teacher recruitment and retention, which is being exacerbated by their growing workload (the latest DfE stats showed 93% of teachers said their workload is a very or fairly serious problem). As teachers’ pay loses value compared to other graduate jobs and against inflation, recruitment and retention of high quality teachers is getting ever more difficult. Until the Chancellor loosens his predecessor’s public sector pay restraint and fully funds a pay rise of more than 1% for all school staff, the crisis is likely to get worse.
“It’s good news that the Government is finally putting funding into training for 16-19 year olds on technical courses. But this is against a backdrop of further education funding being cut to the bone, and expected to fall to the lowest level in 30 years by 2020 according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. With uncertainty about the future employment prospects of the EU-national workforce, ministers must ask themselves whether they’re doing enough to develop the people that businesses and society are relying on to make our non-EU future a success. This economic uncertainty makes it even more important not to let education funding wither.
“The apprenticeship levy risks being a wasted opportunity unless the Government ensures the levy is ringfenced for apprenticeship training and does more to inform companies about it, as many are woefully unprepared. A City & Guilds report showed that a third of employers eligible to pay the levy do not know about it even though they will begin paying it in April.
“While we are pleased the Government is putting £40 million into pilots for lifelong learning schemes, this is a drop in the ocean when adult education budgets have been cut by at least 35% over the past seven years.”