Education leaders respond to budget

By agency reporter
November 22, 2017

Today’s Budget statement from the Chancellor has been condemened as a missed opportunity to announce more money for schools and young people.

Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said, “The first thing to say is that school budgets are still at breaking point, and the Chancellor has done nothing to alleviate that pressure. 

“It will now be impossible for many schools to avoid making redundancies, to continue to keep class sizes at an acceptable level, and to offer a full and rounded curriculum to all pupils.

“It is impossible to claim that this is a Budget which embraces the future when it doesn’t contain any new money for schools or young people." 

Reacting to news that £40 million is planned to be spent on recruiting more maths teachers – the only significant education spending announcement in the entire budget – Mr Whiteman said: “All additional money is welcome, although what is needed is system-wide investment rather than a piecemeal approach. The important thing is that young people are supported to make the choices that are right for them, given their interests, aptitudes and aspirations. Maths is important but it is already the most popular A level subject. Attention should also be given to English and arts subjects that have seen declining numbers in recent years. 

“Schools already appreciate the value and importance of mathematics – this is not the issue. The biggest challenge facing schools is not an unwillingness to promote the virtues of the subject but a shortage of teachers able to teach it. £40 million to train more maths teachers could help with this recruitment challenge but the government has missed its own recruitment targets year after year, so it remains to be seen whether this measure will deliver the numbers required. Let’s remember that according to the latest ITT (initial teacher training) census, there were fewer trainees recruited than required for Maths (84 per cent) and Data from the Department for Education shows an increase in secondary vacancies from 7.1 per cent between 2010 and 2015 to 23.0 per cent in 2015.”

Mr Whiteman continued: “We will continue to make our case loudly and clearly, alongside the thousands of parents, governors, school staff and others who have campaigned tirelessly this year. We put education spending on the map, but the government has decided to go in a different direction. It is now essential that the reprioritised £1.3 billion in the DfE budget is found and quickly delivered to schools. 

“Education is the jewel in the crown of this country’s public services. At its best, it shines, and it allows those who work in it and learn within it the chance to shine as well. But the government’s failure to find any new money today means the jewel is at risk of being dulled, and the successes of recent years replaced by uncertainty.”

* NAHT http://www.naht.org.uk/#

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