From education to employment

School leaders call for Prime Minister to ‘put the country’s money where his mouth is’ on funding for education

Today (Fri 17 Nov), ahead of the government’s Autumn Statement next week (22 Nov), school leaders’ union NAHT, which represents the majority of schools in England, has called on the Prime Minister to ‘honour his promise’ on education funding.

At the Conservative Party Conference earlier this year, the Prime Minister said his “main funding priority in every spending review from now on will be education”, arguing that “it is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet” and “is the Conservative way.”

Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary, said:

“We agree with the Prime Minister that education is the best way to invest not only children’s futures, but in our country in general. Investment into education is proven to have a positive impact economically and socially – as he says, it is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet.

“The upcoming Autumn Statement is the Prime Minister’s opportunity to honour his promise to his party and to the country. Every teacher and school leader will be watching to see if he puts the country’s money where his mouth is, and will be expecting him to make education the priority he says it is in action as well as words.”

NAHT believes there are three priorities for education spending that we must see new money for next week:

  • Investment into rebuilding a creaking SEND system.
  • Money for school buildings and the crumbling estate.
  • The additional £1.7bn needed to cover rising school costs in 2024/25

Mr Whiteman continued:

“We are hearing with increasing urgency from our members that funding for the SEND system as a whole is broken and that investment into both SEND education and the wider services to support SEND pupils is critical. This is something that has been completely ignored by successive governments for over a decade now and it is beyond urgent to solve.

“The absolute minimum parents expect is safe buildings for their children to be educated in. The recent revelation of the RAAC crisis has shown that this basic is not being met. DfE ministers have said very publicly that capital investment to bring all buildings up to an acceptable state is their number one education spending priority in discussions with the Treasury. If we can’t trust the government to deliver safe and structurally sounds buildings for pupils and staff, what can we trust them on?

“New calculations this week* show that current school funding is insufficient to cover schools’ expected costs next year. This will place even greater pressure on already over-stretched school budgets, forcing yet more cuts to provision. Investment is crucial if the government’s promises are to be upheld.

“We have seen reports in recent months that due to inflation, the government’s tax receipts are higher than expected and their borrowing less. If this means there is more money available this Statement than previously anticipated, there is no more valuable place to spend it than on children and education.”

* Schools on brink unless Chancellor delivers £1.7billion in Autumn Statement for 2024/25 / School Cuts website relaunched as funding crisis in education deepens

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