MP: schools need more than a gesture
Philip Hammond has been accused of 'insulting' schools by claiming his Budget funding bonus would allow them to 'buy the little extras they need'.
Labour MP Emma Reynolds slammed the Chancellor for failing to understand the challenges facing schools, citing a primary in her Wolverhampton North East constituency which has been forced to lay off staff due to losing £600,000 in funding over the last three years.
In his Budget Mr Hammond pledged a one-off payment of £400 million to schools, describing it as 'a nice gesture' that would help headteachers afford 'a whiteboard, a couple of computers, whatever it is they want to buy'.
Ms Reynolds said: "The Chancellor does not understand the scale of the challenge or the conditions that schools are facing.
"Describing the money as 'little extras' is insulting. Our schools don't just need a new whiteboard and some extra text books, the 'extras' they need are teachers and teaching assistants.
"This is incredibly short-sighted from the Government.
"With fewer staff in schools the standards of education on offer for our young people will get poorer."
Responding to comments from head teachers that schools were losing staff due to funding shortfalls, Mr Hammond said: “Schools spending will be dealt with in the spending review. We put £1.3 billion of additional money into schools funding last year to protect per-pupil spending in our schools.
“What I did [in the Budget] was nothing to do with that process. It was simply giving back a little bit of the money that we’ve saved this year so that schools can buy the odd little piece of kit that they need. I think that’s a nice gesture.
“Many of the schools I know will be happy to have £50,000 or even £10,000 to buy a whiteboard, buy a couple of computers, whatever it is they want to buy. It’s nothing to do with mainstream schools funding. It was a little extra.”