UK: unions push for increased education spending in latest budget

To improve education for the country’s children, teachers’ unions have urged the UK Government to increase funding for schools as the country gears up for its budget and schools face real-term cuts.

Unions in the UK have voiced their concerns about possible cutbacks, in advance of the country’s Budget announcement on 22 November. The National Education Union, an affiliate of Education International, together with GMB at Work, the National Association of Head Teachers, UNISON and UNITE, have based their concerns on updated data derived from Department for Education (DfE) figures.

Cuts in funding per pupil

According to the calculations of education unions responsible for the schoolcuts.org.uk website, 17,942 schools are facing real terms cuts in funding per pupil, 500 more than initially predicted and equal to nine out of 10 schools.The educators’ organisations explained that the School Cuts website has become such a phenomenon because it has been meticulously put together using official DfE data, giving a true reflection of the financial situation schools are facing.

Transparency

The data was referred to as “misleading” within the UK Parliament, with the predictions described as “scaremongering”. However, the unions say they are being completely transparent about their figures and methodology.

Many other groups, including parents, school governors, and a delegation of more than 5,000 head teachers have been arguing for some time that school budgets are at breaking point. The school funding crisis is real, they insisted, adding that funding increases need to be in real terms, not in cash terms.

Fully funded education system needed

Time is running out to make a difference to school budgets this year, the unions underlined. They also welcomed the additional Stg£1.3bn offered by the DfE in July.

Nevertheless, while this extra Stg£1.3bn, which the DfE is reallocating from its existing budget, is welcome, it is less than what schools need if standards are to be preserved, unions stressed. Only a fully funded education system will deliver the equality of opportunity that school staff, parents, governors, school leaders and politicians are all so passionate about.

With this in mind, the unions involved in the schoolcuts.org.uk website are urging the Secretary of State for Education to make a final representation to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to include increased funding for schools in the budget.

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