It was a highly anticipated Budget 2018 and with just one announcement for schools: Chancellor Philip Hammond says they will get an extra £400 million in capital funding.
The in-year bonus is aimed at helping schools ‘buy the little extras’, he said.
The government says that schools can only spend the money on capital projects such as maintenance and equipment, and not on revenue outlays, for example, staff salaries.
The money equates to an average of £10,000 for a primary school and £50,000 for a secondary school.
Capital cash injection for schools
News of the capital cash injection for schools met with a range of anger and disdain from teachers and teaching unions.
Among the issues highlighted by unions was a report published last year by the National Audit Office which says that around £6.7 billion in capital spending is needed to bring schools up to a satisfactory standard.
The Association of School and College Leaders’ general secretary, Geoff Barton, says the cash ‘barely scratches the surface’ of what schools need.
He added that the money for buying little extras displays a ‘misunderstanding of school funding pressures’.
Mr Barton said: “Most schools do not have money for providing support to pupils or a full curriculum, let alone offering little extras.
‘Government is spending more on fixing potholes’
“What they want is improved core funding and it’s a sign of priorities that the government will spend more fixing potholes than fixing a crisis in school funding.”
The term used by Mr Hammond of ‘little extras’ has been widely criticised on social media by teachers with many saying it is ‘patronising’.
The government says that the extra £400 million takes the capital budget for this year to £5.6 billion from £5.2 billion.
However, the details published by the Department for Education highlight that their capital budget will substantially decrease over the coming two years.
Forecasts reveal that this budget will fall from £5.6 billion to £4.5 billion by 2020-21.
‘Schools need a nominal sum to fund little extras’
The NASUWT’s general secretary, Chris Keates, said: “Suggesting that schools need a nominal sum to fund little extras after schools have faced years of cuts to budgets and teachers are thousands of pounds worse off in real terms, is disingenuous and deeply insulting.
“A one-off capital payment will not help a school meet the complex needs of young people and children and ensure they have the resources to learn.
“In failing to address teachers’ pay, more teachers will leave the profession and the education of young people and children will suffer. It’s clear the government has its head in the sand over the education crisis it has created.”