Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Headteacher Catherine Darnton on the education funding march

Headteacher Catherine Darnton on the education funding march

WE are marching to make sure that schools and colleges can fulfil their mission to educate and equip young people for their futures.

We are marching to make politicians understand the ongoing need for them to fund education properly and to ensure every generation of young people gets the education it deserves. We want schools to be funded so that they can thrive, not just survive.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) stated in its 2018 annual report that total school spending per pupil had fallen by eight per cent  in real terms between 2009/10 and 2017/18.

This means that schools have already had to increase class sizes, ask teachers to teach more and reduce the number of courses on offer just to make the books balance. At Gillotts, we have been able to protect the quality of education on offer by dipping into our reserves, but this of course is not sustainable long term. A particular challenge for us is that our capital funding has been reduced by 80 per cent and we now receive only £18,000 a year, an incredibly small sum for a site of our size and with buildings that are now more than 60 years old.

In July, three leading education unions, the National Education Union, the Association of School and College Leaders, and the National Association of Head Teachers, as well as the f40 education fair funding campaign group, worked together to estimate just how much additional funding is needed to reverse real-terms cuts which have devastated the education sector over the past few years. They calculated we need an additional £6.37 billion in 2020/21, rising to £12.63 billion in 2022/23.

This shows just how seriously underfunded we have all been.

On Friday, the Prime Minister announced a £14 billion package to boost school funding. This will give schools an extra £2.6 billion in 2020/21, rising to £7.1 billion in 2022/23. This additional funding is welcome and shows the Government is starting to respond to the concerns expressed by schools, parents and politicians.

But you can see it is not enough. The IFS has stated that this package will, by 2022/23, take school funding back to about the same level as it was in 2009/10.

On Monday, the Department for Education announced plans to increase new teachers’ salaries to £30,000 by 2022/23 but no mention was made about how this would be funded.

Education is a vital strategic investment in our children and in our country. There are so many challenges that the next generation will face and we should act now to make sure they are well prepared — knowledgeable, resourceful, confident and resilient.

We are committed to delivering but we must have enough funds if we are to do that well.

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