Exclusive: We need record school funding at ‘perilous times’, says NAHT

The government must push education spending to its highest level on record to help the country through a “perilous period in history,” said a school head.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT School Heads Union, said Your that ministers were to provide schools with funding above the highest level seen previously, which was in 2010.

The union leader highlighted the growing deprivation and mental health needs and the funding crisis for students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) as reasons why a major change in funding is needed.

And he warned that Covid, Brexit and climate change mean the country faces a ‘perilous’ time that it must equip younger generations to cope with.

Mr Whiteman said that while catching up with Covid was a short-term priority, the country also needed longer-term ambition for the role of education in its broader recovery.


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In an interview with Yes, he said: “We are getting lost in a debate about recovery. Taking over Covid should be our ambition in the short term, but we also need to talk about a longer term and substantial ambition for education in the future.

Call for record school funding to help recovery from Covid

“The country has suffered an unprecedented shock since the end of World War II

“And it gives us a unique moment to be able to think about what we need, in terms of determining what schools are for, what education is for and to fund the system we want rather than keep looking back.” . . “

Mr Whiteman said he spoke about 2010 spending levels to highlight the decline in real funding to schools over the past decade.

But he is now calling on the government not only to return to that level, but to go beyond.

“I use the benchmark to funding levels in 2010 as a benchmark, and it’s helpful, because it gives us a measure of how much the country, or the government, is prepared to invest in schools compared to there is. more than ten years.

“But that doesn’t tell us much about what we really need in an increasingly complex and competitive world in which the UK is increasingly alone.”

“A simple look back is too narrow. If you look at the growing mental health needs, the SEND funding crisis, the increase in deprivation, it’s clear that more will be needed to respond to government statements on leveling.

“We need to have these talks about funding that goes beyond what we had in 2010 and really puts education at the center of government and the country’s recovery, not just from Covid but everything else that’s hitting us right now.

“We are at a perilous moment in history”

“We’re at a perilous point in history, I think we need to get Brexit right – which isn’t taking off as fast as people might have liked – but whether you voted for it or not, that’s here, and we have to get that done and we’re counting on the younger generations to really build on that.

“We have huge problems with climate change. We have massive equality debates going on right now, and young people are speaking out very clearly on these issues.

“We have a time here where we can choose to seize the agenda around education to equip the next generation to come, to deal with all of these issues and challenges that they are going to face.”

Analysis released earlier this month showed that basic education spending per pupil in England will remain lower in real terms than it was in 2009-10, despite the recent increase in government funding.

Total school spending per pupil in England was just over £ 6,500 per pupil in 2019-2020, down 9% in real terms from its peak of £ 7,200 in 2009-2010, according to the analysis of the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

The government has allocated an additional £ 7.1bn for schools in England through 2022-2023, which will increase spending per pupil by more than 8%, but school spending per pupil in 2022-2023 will still be lower than ‘about 1 to 2%. in real terms than in 2009-2010 despite the allocation of funds, suggests the analysis.

Luke Sibieta, a researcher at the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Education Policy Institute, said spending per student in 2010 was the highest level of school funding ever recorded.

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