Vote Martin Powell-Davies for DGS
James Ellis, Brighton Socialist Party
The Tories have presided over damaging cuts to school funding that have disproportionately affected the most deprived schools, a recent report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies has concluded.
Total spending per pupil was at £6,500 in 2019-20, a real terms cut of 9% from 2009-10. Even when you take into account the promised £7 billion spending boost, school budgets will still be 1% lower in 2022-23.
But within that effectively cuts-based budget, the implementation of a ‘national funding formula’ has, just as unions warned, meant a redistribution of an insufficient overall budget away from disadvantaged schools towards ones in more affluent areas. A recent NAO report found: “Between 2017-18 and 2020-21, average per-pupil funding for the most deprived fifth of schools fell in real terms by 1.2% to £5,177; over the same period, average per-pupil funding for the least deprived fifth increased by 2.9% to £4,471”.
This is all on top of spiralling school costs. The cost of SEND provision in mainstream schools has risen by £650 million in the past six years and the cost of staffing by £3.6 billion. This, of course, is in the context of real-term pay cuts for staff over the past decade, and the government’s planned public sector pay freeze.
It is evident that the Tories do not care about the quality of education that working-class young people receive. With Starmer’s Labour Party providing no opposition, it is essential that the trade unions take action to stop further austerity and fight for adequate funding for schools.
In January, the National Education Union (NEU) showed the potential of union action, managing to defeat the government over its unsafe plans to fully open schools. The NEU must take a fighting stance towards school funding and staff pay – organising a determined campaign which includes national strike action in conjunction with the other public sector unions.
To win such a campaign, it will require a fighting union leadership – which is why the Socialist Party is campaigning for our member Martin Powell-Davies to be elected as deputy general secretary in the upcoming union elections. Martin has the programme and experience needed to lead such a campaign and win fair funding for schools and fair pay for staff.