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PM pledges ‘record level of funding’ for schools amid criticism over cash crisis

Theresa May spoke during a visit to a secondary school in Bristol.

Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to invest record levels of money in schools despite facing criticism from cash-strapped headteachers about a funding crisis.

School budgets was a key election issue, with headteachers, parents and unions all warning the nation’s state schools are facing a severe financial squeeze, with some having to cut staff and subjects.

Last week headteachers from 4,000 state schools sent letters to almost two million families warning that “cash-starved” schools must be given more funding.

The Conservative Party manifesto pledged to increase the overall schools budget by £4 billion by 2022 and the extra funding would have been found, at least in part, through scrapping universal free meals for infants and introducing the cheaper option of free school breakfasts for primary school pupils.

But these proposals were not included in last week’s Queen’s Speech.

A recent paper by the Institute for Fiscal Studies concluded that once rising student numbers and inflation are taken into account, the additional £4 billion would still lead to a real-terms cut in per pupil funding between 2016 and 2022.

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Headteacher Dr Helen Holman welcomed the PM to Orchard School in Bristol (Matt Cardy/PA)

There are also fears proposals brought forward last year by Education Secretary Justine Greening to shake up the funding formula, which aims to ensure similar schools in different parts of the country receive a similar level of funding per pupil, will see schools lose out.

During a visit to a secondary school in Bristol to see meet teachers receiving specialist training to deal with pupils’ mental health problems, Mrs May insisted schools would receive “record levels of funding”.

“As we set out in our manifesto at the time of the election, we will continue to put record level of funding into our schools,” the Prime Minister said.

“We will continue to increase the funding that is going into schools.

“I also want to see that we have a fairer distribution of that funding across the country, so I will be working with schools.

“We have put out some proposals and we will be listening to the responses we will have to that.

“We want to make sure there is a fair distribution of the money around schools because at the moment we see some schools getting significantly more per head of pupil than others.

“There is extra money going into schools and there will continue to be extra funding going into schools and what we need to ensure is that we have a fair distribution of that funding.”

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