• Friday, December 09, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

Lack of ‘adequate’ funding puts UK schools at risk, says union

A teacher wearing a mask welcomes a student back to school at St Mary’s CE Primary School in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

By: Sattwik Biswal

A lack of “adequate” government funding for schools in England during the coronavirus pandemic is putting staff and students at risk, a teachers’ union has said.

The Nasuwt union said there are reports of redundancies of staff who are vital to Covid safety measures in school.

However, Department for Education (DfE) has offered support to schools for increased staffing and safety costs.

According to a report in the BBC, at the union’s annual conference, online delegates will also hear about the high pay from some leaders in academy trusts.

Moreover, the teachers’ union is warning of funding shortfalls and job losses in schools, particularly among support staff, who might help with Covid control measures outside of lesson times.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that the government’s failure to fund schools adequately during the coronavirus pandemic is placing at risk staff, pupils and local communities,” a report from the union said, and questioning “Where has all the money gone?”.

During the first lockdown in the country in March 2020, the Department for Education announced additional funding in schools such as free school meals and cleaning.

But the union says the fundings were “unnecessarily restricted”. Like a school could claim for extra cleaning costs if there was a Covid outbreak but could not claim the same to prevent an outbreak.

On top boss or executive pay in academies, research by the union has found the combined salaries of chief executives in the 20 largest academy trusts in 2018-19, to be £4.72m, or an average of £236,000 for each chief executive.

In response, the DfE says: “We consistently challenge trusts where we deem executive pay to be too high, and will continue to do so when it is neither proportionate nor directly linked to improving pupil outcomes.”

Last November, the DfE announced a fund to help schools which were hardest-hit by funding pressures from the pandemic – also promising of £1.7bn in catch-up funding for schools.

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