Education Funding

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:04 pm on 3rd September 2019.

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Photo of Carol Monaghan Carol Monaghan Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Armed Forces and Veterans), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Education) 6:04 pm, 3rd September 2019

While I welcome the Secretary of State to his new position, I find it extraordinary that he is standing at the Dispatch Box as Secretary of State once again.

The announcement of any additional funding for schools is welcome, but there has to be more clarity and detail about the money. Teachers in England have been undervalued and underpaid for far too long, and while the Government’s announcement on teachers’ pay is positive, far more could be done. In Scotland, the starting salary for teachers is already £26,700, rising to £32,000 after one year, which is £7,000 more than for their counterparts in England. When will the Secretary of State match that level of funding? Moreover, rather than in 2022-23, will he give teachers in England the uplift they deserve now?

Academies in England are not bound by nationally agreed pay scales, and teachers are often paid at far lower levels, so will the Secretary of State now ensure that academy teachers in England are paid at the nationally negotiated pay levels, at a bare minimum? While increased primary funding is welcome—it is rising to £4,000, I think—it is still £1,000 less than the average funding in Scotland. It is simply not good enough. Scotland has the highest rates of positive destinations for young people anywhere in the UK—a sign of the success of Scottish education. Will the Secretary of State commit to looking at good practice in Scotland?

Finally, the impact of a no deal on schools cannot be underestimated. The leaked document from the Department for Education in August outlined that rising food costs could mean free school meals costing £40 million to £85 million more than at present. Will the Secretary of State detail the contingency planning he has done to ensure that schools can provide free school meals?