The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the National Governance Association (NGA) have called on the Chancellor Philip Hammond to wipe out real-terms cuts to education funding, and “deliver the investment schools so desperately need” in next month’s Spring Budget.
In a joint letter to the Treasury, the organisations say:
“Governing boards and school leaders are being forced to make impossible choices as a result of insufficient funding. They are doing their best to ‘make do’ but there are only so many financial efficiencies a school can find before reaching breaking point. Schools are running out of things they can cut.
The organisations said, while the new funding formula is the “right thing to do”, it “cannot be fair unless there is enough money to go around in the first place.
“The total size of the budget per-pupil in state schools is not enough. This undermines a manifesto pledge made by your party in 2015 to “continue to protect school funding.”
The letter calls for per-pupil funding to be protected in real terms, as well as a reversal of the £600 million cut to the education services grant, and a commitment to “sufficient funding” for sixth forms.
A recent report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies revealed that spending per pupil is estimated to fall by 6.5 percent in real terms between 2016 and 2020.
The reports states that:
“…[this will be the] “first time schools have seen real-terms cuts in spending per pupil since the mid 1990s”, adding it presents a “challenge to continuing to provide high-quality education at every stage”.
In addition, other cost pressures – such as rising employer pension and national insurance costs – are squeezing school budgets.
Estimates by the National Audit Office show schools need to save £3 billion overall to make up the shortfall.
The joint letter adds:
“Every young person’s experience of school matters because it is an investment in the future of our society and economy.
Greater investment in schools now will mean future costs associated with poor health, crime and unemployment are likely to be lower.
Children get one chance to attend school, so action is needed now.”