Some schools “did fall too far behind” as a result of under-funding, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has revealed to the Bucks Free Press – as he visited a Beaconsfield school to promote his planned education cash boost.
Mr Johnson was speaking during a visit to St Mary and All Saints C of E Primary School in Maxwell Road following an announcement from the government that an extra £7.1 billion is to be invested into school spending by 2023/23.
The move comes after years of lobbying by heads and teachers for more cash - including from head teachers in Bucks, who at the beginning of last year sent a bill to the government for £141 million to cover a funding black hole.
While the investment has been welcomed, some campaigners have warned it is not enough.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "The biggest increases are aimed at tackling the insufficiency of funding in the worst-funded schools and this is much needed.
"However, many other schools will receive only an inflationary increase and because school costs are rising above inflation this will necessitate further savings from budgets which are already extremely hard pressed."
In response to these claims, the Prime Minister said: “It’s a big increase and I think running it will mean we’re spending £850 million per week on education this year, £900 million next year, £950 million the next year and the year after it will be a million pounds.
“I think Geoff Barton and others are right to say some schools did fall too far behind. What we are trying to do with this package is to make sure that the schools that fell the furthest behind come up the fastest.
“We want to see every kid, every pupil in this country, have access to superb education. Education is getting better in the UK.
“Young people are doing steadily better at school and schools are steadily improving but they can’t do it without the funding.”
“I also stress that it is important to have a strong and vibrant economy to get the money in.
Back in 2018, Bucks head teachers, including David Hood, head teacher at Cressex Community School in High Wycombe, sent a bill to Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, for more than £141 million to cover the shortfall of education funding in the county.
Cressex Community School has also been forced to finish lessons early on a Friday due to budget constraints.
Asked how he would address the head teachers’ concerns in relation to this shortfall, Mr Johnson said: “What we are doing today is confirming the regional allocations of the biggest uplift in education funding for a decade.
“It’s a £124 billion programme overall. Here in Beaconsfield, in this school, it is going to mean another £200 per pupil per year. Talking to Jenny [Barnett] the head [teacher], she thinks that’s going to be a real help to do all sorts of things.
“Clearly different head teachers will have different priorities, but for me it’s absolutely vital teachers should be paid properly, and schools should have fantastic facilities.
“I think education is the single most important thing for equality of opportunity in this country. If we are going to give people the equality of opportunity in this country, if we are going to give people the chances, they deserve in life you have got to have superb education.
“A school like this is clearly offering it, but you have got to fund it properly. “