‘Response from Education Minister on school funding ignores looming crisis’ says Steve McCabe MP

Steve McCabe MP (Birmingham Selly Oak) is calling out the Education Minister for avoiding key questions on school funding which he raised months ago.

Mr McCabe says the Minister failed to address a number of important questions he raised including: whether schools in his constituency would see a real-terms maintenance of their budgets; how the department for education plans on tackling the teacher recruitment and retention crisis in Birmingham; how the increase in funding will help meet non-educational costs such as staff pay rises, increased national insurance contributions and inflationary pressures; and whether special educational needs funding will be maintained.

In July this year Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for Education announced the Government would be putting an extra £1.3billion into the school funding pot over the next 2 years but failed to address concerns from Head teachers and schools about real term cuts and the school funding crisis looming in 2020. Even with the extra £1.3 billion funding, according to the government’s own figures, a local primary school in Bournville can expect to see an extra £6000 added to its budget in 2018-19. However, given that the school has already faced significant real-terms budget cuts and that £3,500 is the minimum per-pupil funding level, this additional money will not even cover the cost of an extra two pupils at the school.  

Steve McCabe is also concerned that the Government is taking money away from other budgets to pay for this funding sticking plaster. The Government has said that the money has come from extra savings made in the Department for Education but part of this is a huge reduction in the healthy pupil capital funding programme which is designed to improve the health of our children. In February this year the Government announced that £415 million would be available to schools to fund facilities and activities designed to promote healthier lifestyles. Just five months later the Government changed its mind and reduced the available money for the scheme by 75%, moving that money over to the basic school funding pot. It is still unclear where the rest of the money has come from but it seems likely that the change in the ‘healthier lifestyles’ budget will simply mean that schools will not now be able to invest in their plans for healthier futures for our children.

This week Steve met with teachers in Parliament to discuss the crisis in school funding and many told him that this additional £1.3 billion over the next 2 years won’t address real concerns about long term funding for our schools.

Steve McCabe said:

“The additional £1.3 billion funding for schools is nothing more than a sticking plaster and will not solve the long-term crisis in school funding. What’s worse is that the Government is robbing Peter to pay Paul and just taking money away from other budgets, like the healthy pupil fund. It took over two months for the Minister to respond to questions I raised back in July and his letter made no reference to my particular concerns about the situation in Birmingham. If his response was a piece of homework it would merit a ‘must try harder’ comment.

“Head teachers, teachers and school governors are still telling me that they’re facing real-terms cuts and they don’t know how they’re going to cope. I want the Government to be honest about the cuts schools in Birmingham are facing and the response I received to my letter suggests that they are ignoring my constituents and burying their heads in the sand.”

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