The NEU – with the support of other education unions – is running an ongoing campaign against cuts to school funding. The campaign has seen thousands of teachers, school staff and parents protest against the cuts and lobby the secretary for education. EdExec looks at the facts and figures behind the initiative
As school business leaders (SBLs) are all too aware, the government has cut £2.8 billion from England’s schools since 2015 and, without the allocation of additional money, schools face increased class sizes, loss of school staff and cuts to extra-curricular activities and resources.
The National Education Union (NEU) – with the support of other education unions – has been raising awareness of the funding issue as part of its School Cuts campaign. The initiative has seen thousands of SBLs, teachers and parents from all over the country join the campaign and protest, making funding a significant national issue.
What is the School Cuts campaign?
School staff have been vocal about the difficulties they face in balancing the books whilst offering the best education for all children. Spearheaded by the NEU, education unions and campaign supporters are urging the government to act immediately and inject much-needed funds into the education system – protecting children’s education.
The School Cuts website allows visitors to enter their postcode to see how schools in their area will be affected by funding. It offers stats on income per pupil, average class size and pupil-to-classroom teacher ratio, as well as looking at the wider impact on specific areas and counties.
Those interested are offered various ways to get behind the campaign, including sharing the website, ordering window posters to raise awareness among locals, and signing a petition.
Impact being felt
The website warns that, ‘…91% of schools will lose out under the government’s school funding proposals’ – and the impact of insufficient funding is increasingly reported in the news. EdExec recently covered a story concerning a primary school in Northern Ireland that has been so severely impacted by budget cuts that parents of pupils are donating toilet rolls. Another recent story reveals a Stockport school’s plans to close early every Friday in a bid to save thousands of pounds.
Campaign success and support
As a result of school staff, teachers and parents raising awareness about school funding, £1.3bn in funding has been won from the government, School Cuts explains – though this doesn’t signal the end of the campaign because, ‘it’s not nearly enough to reverse the cuts and we know nine-in-10 schools continue to lose out’. The campaign now hopes to recruit more supporters to ensure that ‘no-one can ignore what’s happening to our schools’.
A recent NEU consultation (of 82,487 teachers) has revealed the strength of support behind the campaign:
- 100% of NEU respondents want the School Cuts campaign to continue.
- 99% of NEU members in state schools and sixth form colleges believe government funding cuts are having a negative impact in their schools.
- 82% of state schools members say they would be prepared to take strike action to secure better funding for schools.
Commenting on the results, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said last month, “The government’s policy on school funding and teacher pay is having a dreadful impact on the profession and the children they teach. They are presiding over a reduction in the number of teachers, alongside a growth in the number of students.
“Their policies are creating a crisis in both teacher recruitment and retention. The NEU executive will be meeting to discuss these findings, and will be considering the next steps in the campaign.”