Education unions respond to spring statement

Two education unions have responded to yesterday’s announcement of the spring statement

Following yesterday’s release of the chancellor’s spring statement – and the NEU’s warning that the government must address the education funding crisis – the NEU and the ASCL have responded to Philip Hammond’s announcement.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “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.

“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.

“There is nothing new for children with SEND who are not getting adequate provision, nor for teachers who use their own money to resource lessons, or head teachers with difficult decisions to make around the lengths of the school day.

“The chancellor had an opportunity today to end uncertainty for schools about budget planning. He failed.

“The NEU welcomes the funding of free sanitary products in secondary schools. No girl should miss out on education because they cannot afford such essentials.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, added: “We welcome the chancellor’s commitment to funding the provision of free sanitary products in secondary schools and colleges in England from the next school year.

“Such is the extent of pupil poverty that many girls are unable to afford the cost of sanitary products, and schools fund this provision themselves to ensure pupils do not end up missing school.

“The funding commitment announced today is a welcome step, but much more needs to be done to address the general issue of pupil poverty which has become more common in recent years because of the high levels of disadvantage in our country.

“We note also the chancellor’s restated commitment to technical and vocational skills with the introduction of T levels in 2020. Any investment in education is welcome, particularly in the extremely poorly funded 16-19 sector.

“But this investment does nothing for all those students who are studying A-levels and other post-16 qualifications in a range of subjects, including technical and vocational subjects.

“The level of funding for these students is far too low, at a meagre £4,000 per student. It is extraordinary that the government continues to believe this level of funding is sufficient given that it values the next phase of university education at up to £9,250.

“It is extremely disappointing that the spring statement offered no additional money to improve the level of funding in schools and colleges in general despite the overwhelming evidence that the system is creaking under the strain of funding pressures.

“We look forward to engaging constructively with the government in the forthcoming spending review to secure a settlement which gives our schools and colleges the funding they need and young people deserve.”

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