£400m school building fund is too little, teaching unions lament

The proposed funding will go into repairing classrooms, sports centres, replace roofs and improve science labs. There will be a total of £400 million of total funding.

£400 million school building funds have been approved by the government, which will be going into school repairing activities such as roofing and painting. The school funding will also be available to academies and six form colleges. To qualify for these funds, academies will have to show restraint on executive salaries.

The funding comes amidst funding cuts that have plagued schools in the UK. The schools are still struggling to balance the books, having been left cashless by defunding of some of their programs. For academies, however, the restriction requirement for school building funding was taken because these schools had adopted a strategy of rewarding themselves, as the executives of the schools, with hefty salaries.

School building funds application requirements

To ensure that academies are following the rules, the government came up with some rules. The first one was that no executive should be earning more than £150,000 and the second one is if two executives in the same school earn more than £100,000, then they will not qualify for the school building funds.

278 academy trusts had been warned about overspending on executive salaries since 2017. However, only 51 academy trust had taken the initiative of reducing the salaries of the executives.

Government initiative in the funding process

Gavin Williamson, the UK Education Secretary said that the government was committed to providing quality education to students. He also insisted that the government was also committed to ensuring that teachers’ working environment had all the resources it needed, well lit and had better infrastructure.

Gavin continued by saying,

we want all pupils to learn in classrooms that enable them to gain the knowledge and skills they need for success.

Unions object to funding

Teaching unions, however, are not convinced the government efforts will help change the dire situation in the funding of schools rebuilding.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, for instance, termed the move as just a ‘hype’. He doubted it being an investment in the education system pointing to the amount offered as being insufficient.

Geof went further and added that the method of applying for the funding was deeply misguided, especially the requirement on salary restraint.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union. laments:

This is simply far too little, far too late and it is unacceptable that, in the 21st century, so many children and young people go to schools which have Victorian conditions.

School funding debate will continue to dominate the public space, especially as the UK approaches the election period. Boris Johnson’s government has already indicated that it will increase the funding to £7 billion additional fundings by 2023.