Commenting on the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s speech detailing the Spending Review, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“As a result of tireless campaigning by the National Education Union alongside other unions and campaigners, we have won a major shift in Government policy on school funding. Voters, however, should not be fooled. Today's funding commitments for primary and secondary schools, SEND, 16-19 education and teacher pay go some way towards closing the gap, but are still significantly short of what is required.
“There are many things wrong with the Government’s announcement:
* We were asking for a £12.6 billion annual increase in school budgets by 2022/2023. The Government has only pledged £9 billion. This will not be sufficient to reverse all the cuts to date and the Government is clearly seeking to favour some schools more than others.
* They’ve only pledged £400 million for 16-19 education which is simply not enough. The sector has suffered a 27% real terms cut since 2010 and needs at least £1.2 billion in funding.
* The announcement of an additional £700 million for SEND is clearly inadequate in the face of a £1.7 billion shortfall.
* The Government has said it will deliver a minimum of £5,000 per secondary pupil. This is not guaranteed. Many schools could well receive less than this.
* £66m for early years funding is wholly inadequate. The Government needs to invest £300m to restore cuts to early years provision in order to stop providers having to close down. There is still no money mentioned for maintained nurseries that face closure from next August.
“The sums announced today will not reverse all the cuts made to date. We have seen class sizes rise, teaching assistants sacked, and teachers having to scrape together resources just to get by. A generation of pupils have missed the education they should have received because of austerity. Nothing in today's spending review will compensate them for this loss.
“Teacher training targets have been missed for six years in a row. The increases in starting pay now being proposed would only return it to its 2010 level in real terms. No promises have been made for more experienced teachers, whose pay has fallen by around 15% in real terms since 2010.
“England has one of the worst teacher retention rates in the OECD, with almost half of teachers leaving within 10 years and a third within 5 years. Retention rates among older teachers are also getting worse. The NEU wants the government to reinstate statutory progression pay points, in negotiation with teacher unions, so that the pay system is transparent, open and fair and so that proper incentives are put in place for experienced teachers to stay in teaching.
“Not a single penny has been promised until next April but the school cuts are happening right now. These announcements do not go far enough to address the serious issues facing the teaching profession, schools and colleges. So much damage has been done to children and young people’s education. The NEU will continue to campaign to ensure every school and college has the funding and resources needed to give every child the education they deserve.”