Hundreds of millions of pounds taken from school budgets

The Treasury has decided to take back £384m that was originally set aside for English schools last year, as part of a plan to fund the required changes to turn all schools into academies.

The controversial decision comes at a time when head teachers were already complaining about, and protesting, a school funding crisis.

The Department for Education has revealed that when this decision to make all schools academies was reversed, the vast majority of the funding pledged was taken back by the Treasury.

A number of headteachers have spoken out about this decision, branding it “outrageous”, particularly at a time when schools were unable “to make ends meet.”

In response, the Department for Education said the return of funds was appropriate, given that the project did not get completed.

This financial restriction follows complaints from headteachers, and warnings that a shortage of money could force schools into four-day weeks. There have been growing questions about the extra cash announced alongside plans to make all schools convert to academies.

A letter was sent to the education secretary this week, with heads from Bristol warning about “extreme” problems with school funding, and seeking answers on why the funds originally proposed could no longer be used.

The current funding levels would see spending for schools fall by a staggering £3bn by 2020, according to the National Audit Office.

School leaders say that their budgets are simply too low for them to be able to function adequately, and that they may require reduced staff or lower their working hours. There have also been suggestions of parents being asked to make extra payments for grammar schools.

The Department of Education claims that the education sector is receiving record levels of funding, and that a new formula would see these funds distributed equally.

The leader of the National Union of Teachers, Kevin Courtney, said the withdrawal of the announced school funding was “absolutely inexplicable” and that “every parent should be furious”.

“People might say education is expensive, but ignorance is even more expensive,” said Mr Courtney.