Quite rightly one of the most high profile general election campaigns was surrounding school funding.
The election helped raise the funding crisis in schools and scrutinised the Conservative government’s policy and their austerity agenda on public services. Parents and campaigners, particularly the Save our Schools campaign, played an important role in engaging people across the country and holding the government to account. But the fight is not over.
The Conservative government have said that they will put more money into schools budgets through the new national funding formula, but this isn’t enough and does not take into account other cuts and pressures schools face.
The National Audit Office, IFS and Education Policy Institute are amongst some of the organisations that have told the government the financial pressure schools are under. The Schools Cuts website helps demonstrate the strain for schools, with 93 per cent of schools across the country still facing a reduction.
The government’s claim that there is more money going to schools than ever before, but there are more pupils than before, so this equates to a big drop in per pupil funding, which is having a dramatic impact on schools. So parents and the public are losing confidence in Conservative education and funding policies, and the government can’t really expect to be trusted on funding when it keeps announcing ill-thought through policies such as promoting new grammar schools or axing free school meals and then performing huge U-turns.
As chair of the children, young people and skills committee, it is really important to me that local schools have confidence about their role and the difference they can make to young people. Our family of schools is working hard and are strengthening relationships and improving standards. As a local council we will continue to support our schools, but now the government really has to step up, they need to give schools security in their funding so they can plan for the future. The government needs to get the basics right and fund schools properly.
Daniel Chapman is a Labour councillor and the lead member for children, young people and skills on Brighton and Hove City Council.