Commenting on plans announced today, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“The NEU welcomes the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to reverse the cuts to the main school budget lines since 2015 with an emergency cash injection of £4.6 billion, which is £2 billion more than the Government has promised. We also welcome the commitment to spend £10.6 billion more on schools in 2024-25 compared with 2019-20.
“These monies announced today are enough to reverse the cuts to the Schools Block but do not seem to fill the hole in special needs funding or restore the value of the Pupil Premium. Further, there does not appear to be any money for areas suffering from historic underfunding. We look forward to further conversations to address these.
“The Government’s continued underfunding of education, leaving 83% of schools worse off than in 2015, is now untenable. The unfair and regressive cuts to schools have blighted our children’s education for far too long. We urge the public to vote only for candidates who sign the pledge on school funding at www.schoolcuts.org.uk
“We welcome the Liberal Democrats’ recognition that teachers’ pay needs to rise as it has been cut by more than 15% in real terms since 2010, affecting both recruitment and retention of qualified teachers. Like the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats’ are pledging to raise starting pay which may help with teacher recruitment. However, offering a 3% increase per year with inflation unknown is unfortunately unlikely to help much with retention.
“The commitment to recruit 20,000 more teachers is welcome but there must be a commitment to tackle the problems that are making it hard to recruit graduates into teaching and driving experienced teachers out the profession. Excessive workload driven by the high-stakes testing regime has made education an unfriendly place for education professionals. We need to see real action including ending high-stakes testing, abolishing Ofsted and restoring the focus of education. Only when teachers’ professional agency is restored will teaching once again be the attractive profession that it should be.”