William Eichler 05 June 2017

Education under threat from £3bn of cuts, union warns

Education under threat from £3bn of cuts, union warns image

Parents and teachers are concerned about the impact of nearly £3bn in school funding cuts on the quality of education in the UK’s schools.

Polling by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has revealed parents and teachers are worried cuts mean schools will be forced to increase class sizes, drop subjects from the curriculum or cut staff numbers.

The NUT says the Conservative Government has cut school funding by £2.8bn since 2015. Citing an analysis by the School Cuts website, they warned, without substantial additional funding 93% of schools will experience a per-pupil funding cut by 2021/22.

Two NUT-commissioned polls by YouGov – of 1,012 parents with school-aged children, and 755 teachers, conducted separately in May 2017 – demonstrate, the union said, that the wide concern about school cuts is ‘real and justified.’

Just under a quarter of the parents asked (24%) said they believed schools were ‘well funded’, and only 1% of these said they thought schools were ‘very well funded’. 8% of parents believe schools are in financial difficulty.

Over 70% believed that ‘savings’ of £3bn by 2019/20 would have a negative impact on schools. Only 6% believed they would be positive.

Around 43% of parents polled stated that education and school funding will be a key issue in deciding their vote in the General Election.

A majority of teachers (60%) confirmed class sizes had increased in their school over the last two years, according to the NUT poll. A third said they had remained steady, while just 3% stated they had decreased.

Under 40% of teachers polled said the range of subjects available to pupils in their school had decreased since 2015 (38%). 46% said it had stayed the same, but only 9% said that the subject range had increased.

Over a third of teachers polled stated the number of teaching posts in their school had reduced over the last two years (36%). 38% told YouGov teaching posts had stayed the same. The number of teaching posts has increased in 17% of schools.

The majority of teachers (62%) said teaching assistant posts had decreased at their school since 2015, and 21% stated that numbers had stayed the same. Just 7% reported that the number of teaching assistant posts had increased in the same period.

The poll of teachers also revealed cuts to education spending had also hit high needs pupils, with 54% of teachers polled reporting they had seen this funding cut since 2015.

‘The findings of this YouGov poll point unambiguously to a growing crisis in our schools,’ said Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the NUT.

‘Parents and teachers are already seeing the devastating effects of underfunding and the largest school cuts for a generation.’

‘Education cuts never heal and we as a country can do better,’ he added.

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