Extra schools cash is ‘sticking plaster’ says Lancaster MP

Schools are due to receive extra funding
Schools are due to receive extra funding

Extra funding for schools has been branded “a sticking plaster” by Lancaster’s MP.

This week, the government announced an extra £1.3bn for schools, but the money will come from elsewhere in the education budget.

Lancashire’s teaching union said there was “no new funding whatsoever” while Cat Smith said the majority of schools in Lancaster would still lose out.

The announcement comes as schools prepare to break up for the summer holidays and a union spokesman said this means governors or school forums would not have chance to have a look at the details.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said the offer represents a real-terms freeze on school budgets for the next two years.

Education Secretary Justine Greening told MPs she recognised there was public concern over school funding, and told the House of Commons this “significant investment” would help to “raise standards, promote social mobility and to give every child the best possible education”.

David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale said: “The Conservatives are committed to ending the postcode lottery of school funding – so all children receive the education they deserve, wherever they live.
Yesterday’s announcement sends a clear message that we are committed to raising standards and giving every child the best possible education and the best possible opportunities for their future.”

But Ms Smith said the government’s announcement was nothing more than a “sticking plaster”.

She said: “The Conservatives have already cut billions of pounds from school budgets and this announcement will do nothing to help the schools struggling as a result.

“They are not committing any new money and have not been clear about exactly what programmes they will be cutting to plug the funding back hole. The climbdown on the implementation of National Funding Formula is simply the latest sign that this zombie government is weak and wobbly and even with the announcement it still looks like the majority of schools in Lancaster and Fleetwood will be losing out.”

Sam Ud-din, NUT secratary for Lancashire, said: “There’s no new funding whatsoever, but I’m reasonably happy that there’s money being diverted from free schools funding back into normal schools funding. If there’s no new money for local authorities to build new schools then we’re not going to have sufficient capacity. We need extra funding into education now.”

Mr Ud-din said it amounted to a programme of funding with no transparancy.
He said: “This is something that has been made up over the last few days without consultation with local authorities or education experts.

“Due to the school holidays, there’s no opportunity for governing bodies or school forums to consider the proposals. There’s not a penny more in the schools budget for when schools return in September.”

The Department for Education is promising £416m extra for schools from savings in 2018-19 and a further £884m in 2019-20. It is understood that £280m will be cut from the free schools budget and £315m from “healthy pupils” projects.

But in the years between 2015 and 2020, the IFS says school budgets will have declined in real terms by 4.6 per cent.

All schools will receive at least an increase of 0.5 per cent in cash terms.