Teaching unions have reacted with fury after the Government allocated more money to fix potholes than to help hard-up schools.
Chancellor Philip Hammond used Monday’s Budget to hand schools a one-off £400m to pay for “the little extras” for children, before going on to pledge £420m for road repairs.
School leaders criticised Hammond for the “bonus” payment, saying it doesn’t go far enough to make up for years of austerity.
It comes after teachers - many of whom are forced to raise funds for classroom resources - marched on parliament earlier this month to demand more cash for the schools budget.
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the £400m “hardly scratches the surface of what is needed”.
“The Chancellor’s comment that this money will help schools to ‘buy the little extras they need’ shows a complete misunderstanding of the prevailing funding pressures,” Barton said. “Many schools don’t have enough money to provide a full curriculum or individual support to pupils, let alone provide ‘little extras’.
“It is a sign of the government’s priorities that it is spending more on fixing potholes than on fixing the school funding crisis.”
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT - The Teachers’ Union, said that the one-off pledge does little to make up for “years of real terms cuts”.
“To suggest that all schools need is a nominal sum to fund the ‘little extras’ when schools have faced years of real terms cuts to their budgets and teachers are thousands of pounds worse off from years of real terms pay cuts is deeply insulting and disingenuous,” Keates said.
“A modest one-off capital payment to schools will not help schools continue to meet the increasingly complex needs of children and young people and ensure that pupils have the resources they need to learn.”
Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, also alluded to the contrast. “Amongst all the distracting slogans and talk of poaching rabbits, think I’ve just heard the Chancellor announce a bigger lump sum for fixing potholes than for schools,” she wrote on Twitter.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has estimated per-pupil funding has seen an 8% cut since 2010.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, meanwhile, saiid Hammond had “shown in this budget the depth of his ignorance on school funding”.
“Schools are struggling to provide a full and well-rounded education and many schools have fallen into debt – money for ‘little extras’ won’t cut it. Parents, teachers, headteachers and school staff will be dismayed,” he said.
Hammond said the new money for schools would be a “capital” injection and so will not contribute to everyday budgets, which are used to pay for supplies like pens and exercise books.
In June, HuffPost UK found schools were using “wish lists” on Amazon’s website to plead for donations of basic supplies from parents.
Our review of 650 lists found one under the name of a primary school near Reading which included items such as safety signs and wall clocks.
Another school appealed for help in purchasing a classroom whiteboard while a third said it needed supplies of footballs and coloured bibs.