UK: The Chancellor’s speech does not adequately address the education funding crisis

While commending the Chancellor of the Exchequer for announcing in his Spring Statement the funding of free sanitary products in secondary schools, UK education unions deeply regret that he did not address the national school funding crisis.

 

NEU: The Chancellor is out of touch with the daily issues that schools face

“Parents, teachers, heads, school staff and MPs from across the House will be dismayed that the Chancellor did not address the national school funding crisis,” stressed National Education Union (NEU) Joint General Secretary Kevin Courtney on 13 March. He was reacting to the Spring Statement of Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond.

Courtney pointed out that “Philip Hammond’s boast that the economy is in recovery prompts the question of why he cannot address the issue of school funding now. Following his ‘little extras’ gaffe last year, it remains the case that the Chancellor is out of touch with the issues schools face on a daily basis.”

He also regretted that “there is nothing new for children with special educational needs and disability who are not getting adequate provision, nor for teachers who use their own money to resource lessons, nor head teachers with difficult decisions to make around the lengths of the school day.”

Courtney said, “The Chancellor had an opportunity today to end uncertainty for schools about budget planning. He failed.”

However, he welcomed the planned funding of free sanitary products in secondary schools: “No girl should miss out on education because they cannot afford such essentials.”

NASUWT: The Chancellor provides nothing to meet the pressing needs of schools

On behalf of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), General Secretary Chris Keates insisted that “the forthcoming full three-year spending review is needed urgently to tackle the serious financial pressures affecting delivery of education and other vital public services for children and young people”.

The NASUWT leader added that “the Chancellor’s speech today may provide promises for future government spending, but it provides nothing to meet the pressing needs of schools today.”

Underlining that “the era of austerity will continue despite the Chancellor’s statement,” she highlighted that “teachers and headteachers will be looking to the government urgently to address the years of real-term cuts to school budgets and the drastic erosion of teachers’ salaries, which has contributed to the current teacher recruitment and retention crisis”.

Keates also stated that her union “welcomes the Chancellor’s commitment to fund access to free sanitary products for pupils in secondary schools from next year. However, it is vital that this scheme is extended to cover all primary schools and colleges to ensure that no girl misses out on her education or has her dignity compromised due to period poverty.”

“The fact that so many families cannot afford sanitary products for their children is in itself a shameful indictment of the Government’s policies, which have hit the poorest hardest, and especially children and young people,” she criticised.