The start of a new school year with thousands of unfilled teacher vacancies has led to the relaunch of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT)’s campaign on school funding.
On 13 September, the NAHT organised an event at the Houses of Parliament to #TellTheChancellor that “more money needs to be invested in education”. About 20 MPs attended the event, which Jack Dromey, Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington, sponsored.
Despite publishing a damning report in January 2017 claiming that schools were at “breaking point”, the NAHT was disappointed to see the government taking little action to put an end to the school funding crisis.
According to the study, schools have been forced to cut staff and subjects, delay investing in resources and reduce extra-curricular activities over the last few years. They would need at least an extra £2bn each year to avoid doing so.
Clem Coady, a headteacher attending the NAHT event in Westminster, shared his story with a moved audience. He said, “My own children go to the school where I’m the head. I was faced with a situation where I had to make the teaching assistant in my own son’s class redundant because of the cuts to my budget.”
He added: “At the end of last year, I had to let the caretaker go. Now I do his job as well as my own. I came in over the summer holidays to paint the classrooms myself.”
While recognising the Department for Education (DfE)’s efforts to support schools, the NAHT believes the £1.3bn for state schools by 2020, announced in July, is “nowhere near enough”.
“At the moment, schools don’t have enough money. It’s as simple as that. School leaders know it, teachers know it, governors know it, parents know it,” NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman said at the Westminster event.
Indeed, parent-led movements calling on the government to allocate more funding to schools have sprung up around the country since last year. In early July, the Save Our Schools campaign delivered 30,000 letters written by children to 10 Downing Street. A couple of months before, the Fair Funding For All Schools movement released a “Schools Just Wanna Have Funds” video that quickly went viral.
The NAHT is conscious that parents hold the power to change things. Whiteman pointed out that Justine Greening announced the £1.3bn just days after the Save Our Schools action in July, therefore proving the government tries to respond to parents’ anger.
Recognising that schools need funding to afford high-quality education resources as well as to pay their staff, parents have also lent their support to BESA’s Resource Our Schools campaign.
Over 500 supporters have already signed the campaign statement, including the former NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby and heads of subjects associations. Together, we are asking the government to support schools to have access to the resources they need to deliver the education that children deserve.
Sign the statement here.