ASCL response to the Chancellor’s Spring Budget

Julie McCulloch, Director of Policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the Chancellor’s Spring Budget statement.
The Chancellor spent more time name-checking film stars than he did on education. A public sector productivity plan – whatever that actually is – will not pay the bills for schools and colleges anytime soon. A building programme for special schools is welcome but does not address the wider crisis in special educational needs funding.

“This Budget has failed to support schools, colleges, trusts, and the children and young people they serve. Education is a vital part of any credible long-term plan for the country because it is an investment in skills, knowledge and our ability to thrive and flourish as a nation. The Chancellor has instead focused on a desperate attempt to secure short-term political gain by cutting taxes as a pre-election sweetener. This is despite the Prime Minister telling the Conservative Party Conference in October last year that his main funding priority in every spending review will be education because ‘it is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet’ and that it is ‘the best economic policy, the best social policy, the best moral policy.’

“The reality behind the rhetoric is that the Department for Education’s own analysis shows that schools only have enough headroom in their budgets to increase spending by 1.2% in the next financial year. This is unlikely to meet rising costs or be enough to fund anything other than a derisory pay award which will worsen the recruitment and retention crisis. It is likely that many will have to make further cuts to pastoral support, curriculum options, classroom resources and maintenance budgets. The government repeatedly boasts that it is spending a record amount on schools but this was almost always true in every year prior to 2010 until this government plunged schools and colleges into a funding crisis