More than 4,000 schools sign letter urging parents to lobby Government for more education funding

General election 'forced Government to accept there is a major problem,' says NUT spokesperson

Harriet Agerholm
Thursday 22 June 2017 12:43 BST
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Message will go to parents in 17 council areas including Brighton, East Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
Message will go to parents in 17 council areas including Brighton, East Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

More than 4,000 schools are sending letters to millions of families warning of a funding crisis in education.

The letter, which urges parents to lobby their MPs for more money for schools, comes after an election campaign where education finances were a central issue.

The headteachers argue the Conservative manifesto commitment to £4bn extra funding for schools over five years amounts to a real-terms cut, citing a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

The letter says: “It is crucial that the new government responds quickly and effectively to a growing crisis in our schools.

“The only way for our cash-starved schools to function effectively is for proper investment – capital/buildings and revenue – to be made into existing schools.

“The Government must also avoid giving schools additional money through a new formula and then taking it back again through 'hidden costs' and stealth taxes.”

The message will go to some two million families in 17 council areas including Brighton, East Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, the BBC reported. It calls for parents to “campaign vigorously to secure adequate school funding”.

The National Union Teachers (NUT) has warned that class sizes will increase and subjects will be cut unless extra funding is provided immediately.

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the union, said: “The general election has forced the Government to accept that there is a major problem with school funding that must be addressed.

"This matter cannot wait — unless the Government acts now, class sizes will be higher and fewer subjects will be taught in September.“

In the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday, Ms May committed the Government to pressing ahead with changing the funding formula for schools, a controversial issue opposed by a number of Tory MPs.

A spokesperson was unable to say whether the government would stick to the Conservative manifesto promise to “make sure no school has its budget cut as a result of the new formula”.

But speaking to the influential 1922 committee of backbench Conservatives, effective deputy prime minister Damian Green said the Government was still consulting over the new funding arrangement, indicating the proposals could be watered down.

In a joint statement the NUT, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said: "The Government is not listening to voters. The General Election campaign showed that education funding is a key priority for the electorate, with over three quarters of a million people changing the way they voted because of the issue.

“The problems in schools and sixth form colleges are real and immediate, £2.8bn has been cut from school budgets in the last two years. Schools are struggling to afford materials, sending out begging letters to parents and even considering closing earlier in the day to save money.

"Today was a golden opportunity for the new Government to show they've understood the scale of the problem in education funding by announcing immediate plans to provide the additional funding needed. The lack of urgent action is deeply disappointing."

The group said that to stop reducing the curriculum and staff number schools needed a 5 per cent increase in funding “at the very least” from September.

Ministers have defended their record on education funding. A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The core schools budget has been protected in real terms since 2010 and is set to rise from £41bn in 2017-18 to over £42bn in 2019-20 with increasing pupil numbers.

"But we recognise that schools are facing cost pressures and will continue to provide support to help them use their funding in cost-effective ways.“

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