Union says headteachers are already making cuts, but education secretary insists school funding is ‘the highest it has ever been’
A union leader has accused education secretary Nicky Morgan of “deceiving the public” over school funding cuts.
Kevin Courtney, acting general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), made the comments ahead of a teaching strike due to take place on Tuesday in a row over conditions in schools.
Mr Courtney said Nicky Morgan was “misleading the public about funding” and refusing to address “the real issues”.
“She says they are giving real terms protection to the school budget and she uses those words for the purpose of deceiving the public and the country,” he said.
“Headteachers up and down the country are making cuts as we speak – not replacing teachers, making support staff redundant.
“And that means that class sizes are going up, arts and drama subjects are being lost and it means that children are getting less individual attention.”
The union said its demands were to increase funding to schools and education, guarantee terms and conditions in all types of schools, and to resume negotiations on teacher contracts to allow workload to be addressed.
NUT members voted in favour of industrial action by more than 9-1.
Ms Morgan accused the NUT of “playing politics with children’s futures over the issue of pay and conditions”.
“I would urge you to reconsider this damaging industrial action,” she said in a letter to Mr Courtney.
She said it was “disingenuous” to suggest her department was not prioritising school funding.
“The significance we place on education is demonstrated by the fact that we are investing more than any previous government in our schools,” the letter said.
“This year the schools budget will total around £40bn, an increase of around £4 billion since 2011-12, so it is now the highest it has ever been.”
She also said that “the underpinning basis for this strike seems to be teacher pay”.
Mr Courtney insisted that the rate of pay was not the issue.
“It isn’t at all about wages,” he said.
“Again, this is an attempt to mislead. It’s not about a pay rise, it’s not about the amount of the pay rise.”
He added: “They (the government) are talking with us and there are talks and we go to all the talks but they are not meaningful.
“It’s intentionally deceitful and she’s not engaging about the real issues that matter.”