BORIS Johnson today announced a bumper £14.5 billion cash injection for schools across England as he puts education at the heart of his General Election campaign.
The huge three-year funding increase will guarantee that every primary and secondary school in England will receive an above-inflation pay rise for every teacher.
The PM also announced a £700 million package for children with special education needs and disabilities.
And next week the Government will unveil a slate of new reforms to teacher pay and school standards, which will include a radical shake-up of rules designed to improve classroom behaviour.
The announcement comes ahead of the Chancellor’s key spending review and delivers a key plank of Mr Johnson’s leadership election campaign to raise school funding by an average £4.6 billion above inflation.
And it is another signal that he is gearing up for a General Election.
The announcement means that by 2022/23 schools funding will increase by £7.1 billion a year and the overall schools budget will rise to £52.2 billion by that year.
But Mr Johnson refused to reveal how the Government is funding the cash boost but denied it would lead to budget cuts elsewhere. More detail on where the money will be found will come next week, the Government said.
Labour shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer pockets £125,000 from law firm derailing Britain’s EU exit
We should not accept the idea that there can be ‘winners or losers’ when it comes to our children’s futures
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
The schools investment will be staggered, with much of the money coming at the end of the three-year period.
The first tranche will come in 2020/21, when schools will get a £2.6 billion rise, a further £4.8 billion released in 2021/22 and £7.1 billion in 2022/23.
Mr Johnson said the move would end the postcode lottery for children’s education.
END TO POSTCODE LOTTERY
He said: “We should not accept the idea that there can be ‘winners or losers’ when it comes to our children’s futures. That’s why we are providing additional funding now and for the future for every school, with those historically underfunded receiving the greatest increase.
“My government will ensure all young people get the best possible start in life.
“That means the right funding, but also giving schools the powers they need to deal with bad behaviour and bullying so pupils continue to learn effectively.”
The additional funding comes ahead of next week’s Spending Round, and gives schools the certainty they need to plan their budgets.
The move delighted school leaders after years of lobbying for extra cash to ease a growing crisis in schools funding.
But they called on the money to come quicker than April next year as they need the money now.
The money covers real-terms rises in school budgets due to factors such as inflation, increases in the pupil population as well as additional extra funding.
In addition to the funding pot, £1.5 billion each year will be put into teachers’ pensions.
The Government said this means that the overall three-year funding package totals £18.9 billion.
It is understood discussions around teachers’ pay are still ongoing.
‘TEACHERS CHANGE LIVES’
Speaking to a group of children at Number 10 earlier, Mr Johnson said the investment “is to make sure that all schools in our wonderful country get more money, but particularly the schools that have fallen behind in their funding”.
“Teachers change lives, they certainly changed my life and I hope they will continue to do a fantastic job in our country.”
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “We are pleased on behalf of schools and students that the government has listened to our repeated warnings about the scale and severity of the funding crisis, and has committed to desperately-needed additional funding for education over the next three years.
“We will be studying the figures in detail as soon as this information is available to understand exactly what the additional funding covers and how this commitment will be implemented. The crisis is now and extra funding is needed as soon as possible.”
He added: “This announcement comes at a time of great political uncertainty and the Chancellor intends only to set departmental budgets for 2020/21 in his spending round announcement next week.
“This will raise questions about what will happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit and the possibility of an early general election. Whatever the circumstances over the next few years, it must be a national priority to deliver the additional funding which has been pledged today.”
Boris: I wanted to be a rock star but didn’t get very far
BORIS Johnson revealed that he once harboured ambitions to be a rock star and a supermarket tycoon.
The PM said he had also thought of becoming a kitchen tile designer but admitted the plan was a “total flop”.
He shared his early ambitions with a group of budding young journalists during a question and answer session in Downing Street yesterday.
He also revealed he misses cycling and told them he managed to escape the watch of his security guards on a few occasions during his time as foreign secretary.
The Prime Minister was asked if he always wanted to lead the country, and replied: “I had various ambitions.
“I briefly thought I could be a musician, a rock star, but that didn’t get very far.
“Then I thought I would own a chain of multi-brand supermarkets and be a tycoon, but that didn’t get very far.”
Then came a plan to make tiles, he said, adding: “I wanted to make kitchen tiles and that was a total flop.”
“It goes to show you’ve got to try a lot of things first,” the Prime Minister said.
The youngsters, aged nine to 14, all of whom are interested in journalism and politics, had been invited to Downing Street, and asked Mr Johnson questions on a range of topics from the NHS to Hogwarts.
Mr Johnson also demonstrated his knowledge of Harry Potter, or lack thereof, when he was asked which Hogwarts house he thought he would belong to.
He asked another student which house she would be, before giving the same answer, saying: “OK, I’d be Ravenclaw.”
“I’m not as good on Harry Potter as I should be,” he added.
School leaders and teachers have led a long-running campaign calling for more investment, warning that there is a severe shortfall in funding.
Previous analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) suggested that schools have faced budget cuts of eight per cent since 2010.
Luke Sibieta, IFS research fellow, said today: “Today the Government sought to deliver on the Prime Minister’s commitment to increase school spending by £4.6bn over and above inflation. Since 2009-10, school spending per pupil has fallen by 8% in real terms in England.
“The new spending plans should be near enough sufficient to reverse these cuts by 2022-23. In addition, the Government is continuing to provide compensation to schools for higher pension contributions on top of this.
“This package represents a large increase in spending per pupil, taking it back to about the same level it was in 2009-10.
“However, a 13-year period of no net growth in school spending per pupil, after inflation, still represents a significant squeeze on school budgets when considered in historical terms.”
MORE CASH FOR EVERY SCHOOL
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “What we’re going to be seeing is every school in this country is going to be having increases in funding and those schools that have historically had lower levels of funding are obviously going to be catching up with that and making a step towards delivering on the Prime Minister’s pledge for every school to be able to be receiving – whether it’s a secondary school, a minimum of £5,000 per pupil, or a primary school at £4,000 per pupil.”
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said: “After five years of disappointment on funding, I’m sure the Prime Minister would forgive us only giving this a cautious welcome whilst we await the full details to come from the Chancellor’s statement on Wednesday.”
He added: “On the face of it, this investment appears to repair some of damage that has been done to the education system since the cuts began in 2010.
“We’ve won the argument that it was only going to be new money from the Treasury that would solve the school funding crisis. More money is welcome.
“There’s no extra money for schools this year, so that’s still a big problem for schools whose budgets are already at breaking point.”
Angela Rayner, shadow education secretary, said: “This comes nowhere close to meeting the Prime Minister’s pledge to reverse the Tories’ education cuts, let alone matching Labour’s plans to invest in a National Education Service.
“Instead, it is yet another con trick by a politician who has shown time and again that you just can’t trust his promises.
“With the Chancellor only committing to a one-year Spending Round schools are being told to wait years for desperately needed funding, and the truth is that the Government’s figures would prove an absolute fantasy after the damage done by a disastrous no-deal Brexit.”
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