Government accused over school spending claims

School spending has been pushed into the spotlight by the former head of Ofsted who has accused the government of misleading the public over how much money is really being spent on schools.

Sir Michael Wilshaw is the former chief inspector of Ofsted who stood down in 2016 and he told one Sky News show that the government is ‘misleading the public’ with claims that it is spending records amount of money on schools.

He pointed also out that there are proportionately fewer children from the North of England who will go on to university than those from the south.

He says that this fact highlights that geography, as well as ethnicity, has an impact on educational success.

He added that any moves to improve school standards will not happen unless funding goes directly to schools.

‘Schools are struggling for funds’

Sir Michael said: “I know what it’s like being a headteacher when there’s money and could raise standards because I had some, but since I’ve left office I’ve been in schools around the country, particularly in the north, and they are struggling for funds.

“There’s no question about it and it’s sad to see.”

He added that put simply, more money is needed by schools and he’s worried that there is a slowdown in educational standards after 20 of 30 years of ‘remarkable improvements’.

He said: “Talk to headteachers and they’ll say funding is an issue and that’s particularly the case when they cannot attract good people into schools for raising standards and until we do that and pay teachers enough to come into the profession and remain in it, then we will see a decline in standards.”

Sir Michael also highlighted a big challenge which is the huge regional differences in standards for parts of the Midlands and the North of England.

He explained: “In my last year, not one young person on free school meals managed to get into Oxbridge from the north-east of England, Yorkshire and Humberside. In those regions, three times fewer children go to university as they do in the south. That is not good enough.”

‘The leadership of schools needs to improve’

Sir Michael also highlights that the leadership of schools needs to improve and more work should be done for developing high quality future leaders.

However, he also added that there are parents from white communities who are not committed to the educational success of their children.

He added: “I have said things about parenting that we should be tough on those parents who do not support schools and, in some instances, are abusive to headteachers and teachers.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said ‘it is a fact’ that more money is going into schools than ever before and the Department has given local authorities in England more money for every pupil since 2017.

The spokesperson added: “We know schools are facing budget challenges and have introduced a range of support to help reduce costs and make the most of their resources.”

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