Teaching union is ‘concerned’ over £600m cut to ‘essential’ grant

A leading teaching union has today reacted to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement. 

Commenting on George Osborne’s announcements, Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “The Chancellor has rightly recognised the importance of education in protecting it from the worst excesses of his scythe.

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“However, we are extremely concerned about cuts of £600 million from the education services grant as this provides essential support for schools.”

She said that although “it makes good sense for sixth form colleges to be able to reclaim VAT, they should not be required to become academies to do so”.

Other plans that were praised by Dr Bousted include protection for the core funding rate for 16- 19-year-olds in FE colleges and the introduction of an apprenticeships levy as “only 11 per cent of employers offer apprenticeships.” 

However, she also warned that “further education colleges, which play a critical role in providing training for apprentices, have been already been hard hit by Government cuts and now face further turmoil with the area reviews which are likely to lead to closures and mergers resulting in fewer courses. 

“Despite the reprieve to the adult skills budget we continue to fear for the future of further education which is in intensive care, having already been hit by what Professor Alison Wolf described as ‘catastrophic’ cuts. 

“Currently FE provides over half of all construction, engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships and training to 35 per cent of large employers in the country.  It is essential element in the drive for a more highly skilled and productive workforce.

Dr Bousted called on the Government to accept that “any changes to the school funding system must protect disadvantaged children, with funding going where it is most needed rather than where it is most asked for. 

“We urge the Government to conduct a proper consultation to ensure any new system is fair for all children and to give schools a proper transitional period to prepare.

Dr Bousted also noted that the Chancellor had not addressed the “current teacher recruitment and retention crisis.” 

“Four more years of a one per cent pay cap will cast teaching further and further adrift from the salaries of other graduate entry professions,” she concluded.

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