If schools do not receive a funding increase of at least £1.7 billion in 2024-25, they may not be able to recruit or retain teachers, and will begin to cut essential provision in order to survive.
The full text of the letter reads as follows:
We write as leaders of trades unions representing the overwhelming majority of headteachers and teachers in schools and colleges to urge you to prioritise funding for education in your forthcoming autumn statement.
The School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) 33rd Report highlighted the importance of investing in teachers’ pay:
“Investment is needed to proactively manage the worsening recruitment position and declining competitiveness of teacher pay. It will be more cost-effective to act sooner rather than later. The cost of failure is high: it affects teaching quality and adversely impacts on children’s education... [S]alary levels need to be sufficiently competitive if able graduates are to be attracted and retained. There is strong empirical evidence that they are not competitive enough.”
Indeed, the Prime Minister has also said:
“I can tell you: my main funding priority in every spending review from now on will be education. Why? Because it is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet. It is the best economic policy, the best social policy, the best moral policy. It the best way to spread opportunity and to create a more prosperous society. It is not just my way. Conference, it is the Conservative way.”
In securing the Government’s vision for education as a driver for securing a more prosperous future for all, there is no more important time than now to ensure investment in schools, colleges and the education workforce.
We are deeply concerned that following the correction of an accounting error, mainstream schools’ funding via the National Funding Formula will only rise by an average 1.9 per cent per pupil next year. This is well below the current rate of inflation and will place even greater pressure on already over-stretched school budgets. Currently schools will only be able to afford a staff pay rise of one per cent in September 2024. We welcome your decision to substantially increase the level of the National Minimum Wage in April 2024; however, schools will not be able to afford this without an increase in school funding.
We believe that you need to address the lack of education investment. Currently we spend just 3.9 per cent of national income on education. This is the lowest proportion for more than twenty years and compares poorly with other developed nations, the OECD average is 5 per cent. England’s schools have the largest primary class sizes in Europe and secondary class sizes are the highest since records began more than forty years ago.
We call on you to prioritise education in your autumn statement. We currently expect schools’ costs to rise by at least 5.8 per cent in 2024-25, in the event of a pay award equivalent to that awarded in 2023-24. This overall increase in schools’ costs will require an increase in school funding of at least £1.7bn in 2024-25 in order to recruit and retain teachers and protect schools and colleges from having to make further cuts in provision.