Commenting on Government proposals on the education of disadvantaged children from its anticipated 'Levelling Up' White Paper, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“Whilst the National Education Union welcomes any new investment in schools it is vital to note, as the NAO has pointed out, "there has been a relative re-distribution of funding from the most deprived schools to the least deprived schools.” (1) We can see that many of the areas now targeted for support have been among the hardest hit by education cuts over the last decade - on the Government's own watch, and entirely of its own making.

“The sums being promised will not make up for what has been cut. If the Government was serious about levelling up education, then it would restore all the money it has cut from these schools.

“The Government is crowing over the fact that real spending per head is finally going above 2010/11 levels, but this is nothing to be proud of. Firstly, it is only true at a national average, and the cuts made to disadvantaged areas since 2015 have not been made up. Secondly, to just match spending in 2010 betrays a real lack of ambition for education. Only through serious investment will we meet the ambition that all parents, head teachers, teachers and support staff have for the children they teach.

“We welcome a proper conversation about the skills which young people need for their lives, careers and as citizens, but piecemeal reform won't adequately address our current 'exam factory' culture. Parents, staff and young people want a genuine curriculum review that will deliver a more varied and motivational educational offer post-Covid. It is a cultural shift we absolutely need to see.

“The government must also commit to a proper strategy across government to eradicate child poverty, because poverty can so strongly determine young people's life chances and ambitions. 

“There needs to be a collaborative strategy with the education workforce to re-think education after Covid.”

Editor’s Note

  1. School funding in England (paragraph 16, 2nd July 2021)



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