School funding represents an issue across United Kingdom
School funding represents an issue across United Kingdom

MANCHESTER National Union of Teachers (NUT) have hit out at the government’s controversial school funding plans and claim they are a “vanity project.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond is due to make £320m available in the budget today for a fresh wave of free schools and grammar schools in England.

This funding announcement could start the ball rolling for a new generation of grammar schools and Hammond is due to confirm the one-off payment will be used for 140 new education establishments offering 70,000 school places.

Free schools have been a source of controversy since they were popularised during David Cameron’s time in Downing Street while the debate about whether grammar schools are worthwhile has raged for decades.

And Manchester NUT spokesperson John Morgan criticised the plans and believes they are not the way forward for the nation’s pupils.

He said: “There is a massive gap in funding for children and it is is now as low as the 1970s.

“There is no evidence that free schools or grammar schools increase social mobility.”

Morgan does not expect there to be any national strike action over the budgets for free schools and the possibility of re-opening grammar schools because the NUT does not wish to turn the controversy into a political issue.

He added: “There are a lot of people campaigning at the moment and lots of people are backing us.

“We have campaigners including teachers, headteachers, parents and council members and we will be going out to speak to more people.”

Across the nation, concerns have been raised that Mr Hammond’s plans are not addressing the growing concerns about a school funding crisis and there have been NUT warnings that some schools could be forced into four-day weeks as well as cuts to staff and subjects.

The NUT’s stance is broadly in line with the Labour Party’s plans for education and shadow education secretary Angela Rayner echoed Morgan’s thoughts.

She added: “It is not about giving places to local children that need schools, it’s about sucking money out of the state sector, which has already seen a £3bn cut and putting it into a system with no evidence to suggest it will help our children.

“It is not parents who choose, these schools select the pupils. It will make the education system worse for most of the children in our system.”

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