SCHOOLS could be forced to open only four days a week due to lack of government funding, teachers and MPs warned yesterday as new cuts to the sector were announced.
The Treasury clawed back £384 million from the education budget yesterday after its plan to force schools to become academies was torpedoed by MPs.
The government had made extra cash available to fund “academisation” of all schools. But with strong opposition from Labour and some backbench Tories, the plan was dropped.
NUT general secretary Kevin Courtney said the clawback was “yet another example of the government having no willingness to recognise the seriousness of the school funding crisis.
“It demonstrates not just a lack of joined-up thinking, but an apparent mission to ignore a crisis which has exacerbated on their watch.
“It is obvious that the money earmarked for schools should remain available to schools. Ninety eight per cent of schools face real-terms cuts. Unless the government allocates more money, schools will lose £3 billion a year in real terms by 2020.”
Labour shadow education secretary Angela Rayner MP said: “It is astonishing that the Treasury is now clawing money back from the education budget at the same time as schools spending is being drastically cut.
“There is no better investment a government can make than in education and it is deeply depressing that the Tories have chosen to take money away from schools like this.
Five school principals in Cheshire have warned that schools may have to work a four day week to save cash, and that some subjects could be scrapped, while teaching assistants and mental health support workers could face redundancy.
The head of Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School in Cheshire Denis Oliver said he was investigating the possibility of “having children working at home with their teachers online as virtual support, saving on heating, lighting, cleaning and transport costs.
“Class sizes will rise, services for children with high needs will drastically reduce, school libraries may have to close.
“It’s draconian. It will destroy some schools.”
West Sussex headteacher Jules White said local schools faced a “dire financial situation.”