Government's £1.3bn pledge for schools is 'not good enough', says teacher's union

A teacher's union says the government's pledge to offer an extra £1.3bn for schools over the next two years is 'not good enough.'

Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 2:05 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 12:08 pm
A 1.3bn budget boost has been given to schools - but unions say it is not enough

Amanda Martin, national executive member of the NUT for Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight has welcomed the boost in funds but says that more is needed to stop schools from slashing budgets.

Justine Greening made the announcement yesterday that the funds would be allocated for the 2018/19 and 2019/20 academic years and would be funded by 'efficiencies and savings' in the Department for Education's budget.

The Education Secretary also confirmed the plans to introduce a new national funding formula to try and ensure money is distributed fairly across the UK.

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This funding formula - which is set to be ratified later on this year - was criticised by Portsmouth headteachers and union members during its consultation period earlier this year with some schools saying they would lose money, while others would gain extra funds.

At the time, the Department for Education said that overall Portsmouth would see an increase in funding of £1.2m under the proposed changes.

Ms Martin said: 'This new £1.3bn fund is a start and shows that the pressure has paid off. We will always welcome more funding for our schools.

'However, it is simply not enough. They are still spending billions of pounds on projects which are not needed such as the plans for free schools.

'This funding really is a sticking plaster. Schools are still having to review their own budgets and plan redundancies.

'Schools in Hampshire deserve better than this.'

Steven Labedz, executive headteacher of the Salterns Academy Trust which looks after Trafalgar School in Hilsea said the funds should 'level things out' for secondary schools in Portsmouth.

He said: 'We are in a position where these new funds - which would be about between £15,000 to £20,000 a year - would help level things out for us. So our situation is unlikely to deteriorate in the next two or three years as a result. So it has got be a good thing for us.

'It is also very good to see an education secretary finally look to bring more funds for schools. Since 2010, the funding for schools has been going down and at Trafalgar, we've been increasingly hit by funding cuts as a result.'

He added that as the funding is set to be taken from other area's within the department's budget that headteachers in Portsmouth would be 'disappointed' that the £1.3bn is not 'new funding.'

Ms Greening said she remained committed to the free schools programme to deliver 140 new schools.

She said: 'The additional funding I am setting out today, together with the introduction of a national funding formula, will provide schools with the investment they need to offer a world-class education to every single child.

'There will therefore be an additional £1.3bn for schools and high needs across 2018/19 and 2019/20, in addition to the schools budget set at spending review 2015.'

In a breakdown of the funds, she said it would increase the basic amount of funding for every pupil with each secondary school provided at least £4,800 per pupil.

Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North's Conservative MP said the funds would help relieve some of the pressure on the city's schools.

She said: 'The new funding formula already benefited Portsmouth by about £1m but this additional cash into the system is very welcome and takes some pressure off our schools so I very much welcome it.'

However, Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South's Labour MP disagreed, siding with the union's take on the announcement.

He said: 'The government's announcement on school funding is nothing more than a sticking plaster.

'The Tories have already cut billions of pounds from school budgets and this announcement will do nothing to help the schools struggling as a result.

'They have failed to be clear on exactly what programmes they will be cutting to plug the funding black hole.

'Only last week, I heard of a school in our great city having glue sticks donated as the school hasn't got the funds for essential equipment like this for our children.

'Our great city deserves a better funding deal. A deal which ensures every child in every city school has the chance to succeed.'