Commenting on the news of the Budget give-away to free schools and grammar schools, ATL general secretary, Dr Mary Bousted, said:
“Teachers and heads in the thousands of existing state schools in the UK which are facing real-terms cuts in funding for their pupils will be dismayed to see the Chancellor throwing more money at free schools and grammar schools. These spending pledges are totally insufficient to tackle the schools funding crisis the Government is inflicting on schools by forcing them to make over £3 billion of savings by 2020. Bigger class sizes, fewer learning resources and fewer teachers with greater workloads are the likely consequences. It will do nothing to help schools recruit and retain teachers and heads, and will put a broad and balanced curriculum at risk.
“Not only will the funding be misdirected, but the National Audit Office (NAO) found that it costs far more to create a place in a free school than it does in a mainstream school. And the Government persists in wasting money by allowing free schools to open in areas where there is no shortage of places. Funding the expansion of selective education is a mistake that will result in a small minority benefitting at the expense of the vast majority of the country’s young people.
“We urge the Government to rethink and increase the overall amount of funding for schools through the national funding formula so that it can do its job and ensure that every child has the opportunity of a good education.
“In the light of the National Audit Office report that some £6.7 billion is needed to return all school buildings to satisfactory or better condition, it is good news that the Government is providing £216 million to improve the quality of school buildings.”