Commenting ahead of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget Statement, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ Union, said:
“The Chancellor’s Budget Statement is a textbook exercise in political distraction and spin.
“Whilst the Chancellor seeks to captivate public attention over the Government’s continuing plans for academisation, he avoids the key question of whether all schools will have enough money to make ends meet this year, next year and into the future.
“The Chancellor’s claims that he wants to put the next generation first and to protect school budgets will ring hollow in many schools that are struggling financially and while they struggle to cope with the impact of a teacher recruitment and retention crisis that is putting huge strain on the ability of schools to meet the educational needs of pupils.
“The education measures contained in today’s Budget Statement are an attempt to distract from the reality of the Chancellor’s failed economic plan.
“There is simply no evidence to back the Chancellor’s belief that forcing all schools to become academies will deliver higher educational standards and neither will these measures deliver more qualified teachers into classrooms.
“The Government has pushed forward three major changes to education legislation since 2010 designed to academise England’s schools. Today’s announcement on academies represents nothing new.
“After a number of policy U-turns in the last few months, the Chancellor’s announcement that all schools will need to become an academy by 2022 must be viewed as an attempt to distract the public from the state of the economy, and will leave many people questioning what the last six years of reforms in education have been about.
“If the Chancellor was serious about the need to put the next generation first, he would take the steps necessary to ensure that every child is taught by qualified teachers, and guarantee access for children and young people to the range of educational resources, opportunities and specialist support they need to learn, progress and achieve.
“It is deeply regrettable that the Chancellor’s Budget Statement reinforces this Government’s view that local authorities should play no role in education. The Chancellor’s ideological opposition to local authorities risks hitting children from disadvantaged backgrounds hardest, particularly those children with special educational needs and disabilities.
“The announcement of new funding for 25% of secondary schools to enable them to extend the length of the school day in order to deliver education in music, the arts and sport must represent an admission of the failure of the Government’s education reforms over the last six years, which have seen these subjects squeezed out of the curriculum of many secondary schools.
“Arts, music, PE and sport should be part of the educational entitlement of every child and not just a few. However, the Chancellor’s announcement today risks further entrenching the postcode lottery in education.
“Too often, parents are being asked to dig deep into their pockets to cover the cost of their children’s education. Regrettably, the Chancellor’s plans will do nothing to alleviate these financial pressures on families, particularly for those pupils in schools that do not benefit from the additional funds the Chancellor has announced today.
“As ever with the Chancellor’s Budget Statement, the devil will be in the detail and it will be important to examine carefully the rules governing how money for “extra-curricular” activities will be available for schools.
“The overall impact of the deepening public spending cuts announced by the Chancellor will leave many children and families struggling to cope without the vital support services they need to enable them to improve their future life chances.”
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