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NAHT urges Westminster to confront school budget crisis

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) is imploring the government to begin serious work on school budgets.

The independent union has sent letters to every single MP setting out four reasons for school funding being at a “breaking point.”

The group’s statement deals with the increase in employer pension contributions to 5.5% in April 2015, which it says have hit schools particularly hard.

In addition, NAHT took aim at the current budget plan and the end of annual teaching pay awards. It says £600m of cuts to the Education Services Grant, coupled with the lack of extra awards funding, have put increased stress on the system.

The association’s general secretary, Paul Whiteman, has used the letter to urge MPs to write to the chancellor, Phillip Hammond, on this issue ahead of the Autumn Budget.

“£2.8bn has been cut from school budgets since 2015,” writes Whiteman. “Seven out of ten of our 29,000 members expect their budgets to be untenable by 2019.

“I’d be very surprised indeed if you hadn’t heard from a head teacher or a parent expressing concerns about school funding over the last few months.”

The organisation also pointed to the effects of the new Apprenticeship Levy. The policy means that nearly all maintained schools and academies have to pay an extra 0.5% on their payroll costs.

The plea comes just a month after councils criticised the government’s new funding system for schools. LGA bosses said the plans were “not sustainable in the long term” despite education secretary Justine Greening announcing £1.3bn in boosted funds.

A department for education spokesperson said: “We are investing an additional £1.3bn in school funding over and above existing spending plans, and under the new national funding formula all schools will see a cash increase.

“The formula has been widely welcomed and will put an end to historic disparities in the system. The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has confirmed that overall funding per pupil across the country will now be maintained in real terms over the next two years. Measures such as the apprenticeship levy will also support schools to recruit, train and develop their staff.”

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