Strength of feeling ‘growing among schools’

Headteachers from across England and Wales hold signs in Parliament Square, London, as they prepare to march on Downing Street to demand extra cash for schools. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
Headteachers from across England and Wales hold signs in Parliament Square, London, as they prepare to march on Downing Street to demand extra cash for schools. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
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Unprecedented protests from the nation’s headteachers are a signal of the frustration they feel, unions have warned.

Headteachers, petitioning Chancellor Phillip Hammond, had joined the Worth Less? protest over what they claim are “unsustainable” funding cuts.

“They are not the usual crowd to march on Westminster,” said Andy Mellor, president of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT). “This is headteachers mobilising themselves - it’s a shame it’s come to this.”

Earlier this year, figures from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) revealed the number of secondary schools in England running at a loss had nearly trebled.

In July, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said total school spending per pupil fell around eight per cent in real terms in England between 2009/10 and 2017/18.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said while it was about funding, it was also about children’s chances: “This is grassroots leaders of schools, saying they cannot continue. There has been a huge strength of feeling for two or three years but that is growing.”

The Department for Education maintains it is spending record amounts in schools: “There is more money going into schools than ever before, rising to a record £43.5bn by 2020 - 50 per more in real terms per pupil than in 2000. Every school attracts more funding per pupil through the National Funding Formula, high needs funding has risen to over £6 billion this year, and the 3.5 per cent pay rise we announced for classroom teachers on the main pay range is backed by £508m Government funding.”