Education unions have urged the UK public authorities to increase investment in schools and implement adequate distribution of funding.
NASUWT: “Stockpiling of public money, often at the expense of the children and young people”
“The NASUWT has and will continue to argue for increased investment in schools, but has also warned over this issue of excessive school reserves and the need to ensure funding reaches the front line where it can directly benefit teaching and learning,” asserted National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) General Secretary Chris Keates, in response to a report published on 11 January by the Education Policy Institute on school revenue balances in England.
Noting that “the Report questions whether local authorities should redistribute budget surpluses to address deficits in the maintained sector,” she also recalled that her union “has long advocated this approach, which was often used successfully by local authorities to support schools in difficulty.”
Keates went on regretting that “unfortunately, since 2010 the Government has abandoned these and other important financial controls in its drive to give excessive freedoms and flexibilities to schools.”
“The result has been in too many cases the stockpiling of public money, often at the expense of the children and young people whose education such funding was intended to support and the teachers and other staff who have seen a year-on-year deterioration in their pay and conditions of service,” she concluded.
NEU: “A Government that appears to care nothing for the quality of education”
According to National Education Union (NEU) Joint General Secretary Kevin Courtney, “the increase in the percentage of secondary schools in deficit to over 30% is predictable and a direct consequence of the Government’s refusal to adequately fund the education system. Cost pressures in the education system and the increase in secondary school pupil numbers mean more secondary schools will face a deficit in future years.”
“The report shows that despite cuts in educational provision, school finances are continuing to deteriorate,” he also underlined, explaining that “more than half of all secondaries and almost half of primaries are being forced to spend more than their income this year, so deficits are going to increase and ‘surpluses’ are going to fall anyway unless something is done about overall funding.”
Commenting on the Department for Education’s definition of ‘excessive balance’, i.e. a 5% surplus for secondary schools, he argued that “this is not ‘excessive’, as any business leader would tell you, and represents less than 10 days of a school’s running costs. The report concludes that there is not enough money in so called ‘excessive balances’ to cover the deficit balances.”
Courtney also strongly deplored that “this is a Government that appears to care nothing for the quality of education our children and young people receive. It is time they listened to the head teachers, teachers, school staff, and parents who are saying ‘enough is enough’ and ensure our schools are properly funded.”