School leaders take 'unprecedented' step on school funding

By agency reporter
October 17, 2017

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has taken the unprecedented step of writing to every Westminster MP to urge them to take the education funding crisis more seriously. In a two-page briefing, NAHT sets out the four main reasons why school budgets are at breaking point.

  • National Insurance and Pensions: Increases in the cost of employers’ contributions of over 5.5 per cent in April 2015 have had a big impact on schools.
  • £600 million of cuts to the Education Services Grant: The ESG was used by local authorities and academies to fund school services, such as HR and facilities management. These services are still needed so the cost has been shifted to individual schools and academies, putting further pressure on school budgets.
  • Pay: The cost of annual pay awards for teaching and support staff, however minimal, has been unfunded in school budgets.
  • The Apprenticeship Levy: The levy came into effect in April 2017. Only one per cent of employers have to pay this but nearly all maintained schools and most academies will have to pay an extra 0.5 per cent on their payroll costs.

In the letter to MPs, Paul Whiteman, NAHT’s General Secretary writes, “£2.8 billion has been cut from school budgets since 2015. Seven out of ten of our 29,000 members expect their budgets to be untenable by 2019.”

Mr Whiteman continues, “I’d be very surprised indeed if you hadn’t heard from a head teacher or a parent expressing concerns about school funding over the last few months.”

And yet there is concern amongst school leaders, that despite the hundreds of letters written, and the thousands of parents, families and governors who have become campaigners, many MPs have failed to grasp the severity of the issue.

Mr Whiteman has also written in the MPs’ own magazine, The House to say: “The importance of giving all young people a high-quality education is a mission that unites teachers and politicians. We hope that you will listen to what your constituents are telling you about school funding. Above all, we’d like to see Parliament alive with debate about school funding between now and the Budget.”

NAHT’s #TellTheChancellor campaign is gathering pace, with a lobby of Parliament on 24 October, where parents and school leaders will be working together to raise awareness with MPs and encourage them to write to the Treasury to ask the Chancellor to announce more money for schools in the Autumn Budget.

Jo Yurky, the organiser of the parent-led Fair Fund All Schools campaign, said, “We can see the impact of the funding squeeze in our schools and we know what it means for our children’s futures. We are letting MPs and Ministers know that cuts to education are not acceptable. We will continue our campaign into this new school year and won’t stop until this government comes up with the increased investment that our schools need.”

* National Association of Head Teachers http://www.naht.org.uk/#

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