David Cameron and Nick Clegg insist that frontline services are being protected from spending cuts. No teachers and nurses will lose their jobs. Not so!
As reported in the last issue of Solidarity, thousands of teachers and other education workers who are employed by local authorities and who teach or provide support to children with special needs are facing the threat of compulsory redundancy.
These jobs are linked to money held centrally by local authorities and to specific grants and funding streams. Many of these grants are ending and as local authorities are under pressure to make cuts jobs are threatened. On 15 October the Times Education Supplement (TES) reported that nearly 80% of local authorities were planning cuts to their education provision.
In the Comprehensive Spending Review George Osborne boasted that schools would see a real terms increase in their budgets next year and would benefit from the so-called “pupil premium”. But the increase in the schools budget allowing for inflation is a paltry 0.1% per year. As total pupil numbers are due to increase by 0.7% per year, spending per pupil will be cut in real terms by 0.6%.
According to the Financial Times (30 October) “a rise in pupil numbers will mean current spending per pupil will be cut by 2.25%” by 2014.
It is now clear that the pupil premium is not additional money but is reallocated from other parts of school spending. It will be allocated to schools on the basis of how many pupils receive free school meals. The FT calculate that a primary school would need to have 20% of its children on free school meals to avoid losing money; 62% of children are in primary schools that will fall below that bar and have their budgets cut.
The most vulnerable young people in the country will be hit first by these cuts. That’s why the teacher unions should be at the heart of anti-cuts campaigning now.