Here’s why funding schools might not be ‘immediate priority’ under new government

Political experts share where the money is set to go instead

School children in their classroom
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Labour have walked into a public funding nightmare, and political experts share why this means funding for schools might not be their top priority.

During the election debate, Keir Starmer made his stance on policies affecting children and families clear - and education was one of them. The Labour party further doubled down on their efforts to assure voters families were central to their policy making, revealing proposals to overhaul childcare, flexible working and family policy - again reiterating how their plans for funding schools would align with these measures. 

With schools about to break up for summer holidays, parents will be wondering how soon they might see Starmer's promises come to fruition, but experts suggest he'll be forced to place education funding aside for a while, with the need to prioritise other public services whose needs are deemed greater.

Sam Freedman has previously worked at the Department for Education (DfE) as a senior policy adviser to Michael Gove. Sharing his thoughts on the reality of Labour being forced to make difficult decisions amid taking on a public funding nightmare, Sam believes teacher pay and education funding might not be the top priority families were expecting. 

As reported by Schools Week, he said "Straight away, they [Labour] are going to be trying to negotiate with the Treasury on a one-year spending review in the budget in September," adding "very difficult conversations" over teacher pay and school funding will begin "from a position where the DfE are in a lot of financial trouble."

"For all the challenges that we can talk about, schools are functioning."

Sam Freedman

Freedman continues to argue that, "For all the challenges that we can talk about, schools are functioning," insisting this is "not true" for the NHS, criminal justice system, policing and local government, which could go to the top of Labour's agenda instead. 

He concludes that with ongoing issues over childcare provision and university funding, even within the DfE, "schools might not feel like the most immediate, burning platform priority."

Loic Menzies, a researcher and education policy specialist based at Jesus College, Cambridge University, shares his thoughts on the obstacles facing Labour when it comes to education reform. Speaking to Education Executive, he says the party has "Very limited room for manoeuvre because there are so many fires raging at the moment."

He adds the crisis in special needs, low attendance rates, the state of school buildings and a breakdown in the relationship between parents and schools are key issues the new government face.

He concludes "You’ve got so many immediate things that are going to take up a huge amount of bandwidth that I don’t they’re likely to be able to take on much more," adding "I think it’s unlikely that the proposed VAT on private schools is going to be enough to pay for these quite fundamental challenges."

GoodtoKnow Family Editor and mum-of-one, Stephanie Lowe, shares her thoughts on these insights. She says "It's frustrating that we were lead to believe schools would be a priority yes they are 'functioning' but for how long? And for many this simply isn't true - from parents to SEN pupils to teachers on the edge. I get that the NHS is on it's knees and definitely needs to be a top focus, but I hope this doesn't mean schools will fall to the bottom of the list - this is the future of our country."

For more on education, we share everything you need to know about school fines for taking children out of school in term time. Sexual harassment is rife in schools and experienced by both teachers and students according to horrifying report, while teachers are told to look for sextortion victims in school as cases soar - and teenage boys are most affected.  

Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.