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NGA responds to the Spring Budget 2024


Emma Balchin, Co-Chief Executive, responds to the Spring Budget announcement (6 March 2024) and the overall absence of any additional funding for schools.

It is frankly depressing that the Chancellor has once again failed to provide the much needed investment for schools in England and is a huge discouragement to the vital work of the sector. Despite the Department for Education's claim that funding will reach its highest-ever level in real terms by 2024-25, it fails to acknowledge the significant strains faced by school leaders and governing boards, offering no relief from these pressures. Whilst we welcome the announcement on investment in specialist schools, this falls far short of investment needed in mainstream schools as a whole.

Balancing the budget has been consistently identified as the top challenge facing governing boards in our Annual Governance Survey, forcing schools and trusts to make difficult decisions over staffing levels, curriculum provision and services that support pupils. Unfortunately, this struggle has only intensified as funding has failed to keep up with the rising costs required to address the needs of vulnerable groups, including children with SEND, mental health and wellbeing challenges and the widening disadvantage gap.

Our manifesto calls for an urgent review of funding to ensure that schools are able to accommodate the extra requirements of vulnerable groups while maintaining high-quality education provision.

Today’s budget announcement also falls short of the ambition and investment desperately needed for school buildings and estates. It’s crucial to ensure that they are not only in an acceptable condition for our staff and pupils to work and learn in now, but fit for future generations.

In our recent STRB submission, we advocate that teachers and leaders receive a cost-of-living rise as a minimum, to address the persistent recruitment and retention issues in the sector. It is essential that any future pay awards for teachers and support staff are fully funded.

The absence of any additional support for schools and trusts in today’s announcement is therefore deeply disappointing. It fails to recognise the full investment needed to improve pupil outcomes in the long term, contradicting the Prime Minister’s sentiments expressed in the autumn proclaiming education as our greatest economic policy. 

Emma Balchin
Emma Balchin

Co-Chief Executive

Emma has over 25 years’ experience in education, leadership and school improvement and in leading professional development services. Emma has also governed and chaired across maintained schools, academy trusts and local academy committees.