Corbyn: Labour government would be brave enough to tackle hole in school budgets

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Labour is "brave enough" to tackle a £3 billion hole in school budgets, Jeremy Corbyn has said.

A government led by him will give education the "priority it deserves", the Labour party leader said.

Details of the party's plans for school funding will be set out in its manifesto, Mr Corbyn told the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) conference in Telford.

Schools in England will need to make £3 billion of savings by 2019/20 according to government estimates, the National Audit Office has said.

West Sussex headteacher John Gadd asked Mr Corbyn if he was "brave enough" to fully reverse these cuts.

"I believe we are brave enough to do it because I see education as a complete priority and that is what I want to achieve, because it unlocks the potential of children," Mr Corbyn told the conference.

"And if you look at it an economic level further down the line, we have a skills shortage across the whole country, we have a lack of investment in skills training for post school and that means we've got to look again at the spending we put into schools.

"If every school is now faced with a funding crisis, or the vast majority of them, that is not a good way forward and I'm determined to lead a government that will give the priority it deserves to education not the blame culture of headteachers and teachers in under-funded schools.

"I'm determined to change it."

Ministers have previously said that school funding is at record levels, and this will increase further over the next two years as pupil numbers rise.

In a speech to the delegates, Mr Corbyn hinted that money may be found for schools through a corporation tax.

"While funding to our children's education is cut, multinational corporations have received multibillion-pound tax giveaways," he said.

"How can it be right that money is being siphoned straight out of our children's schools and directly into the pockets of the super-rich?

"We have to be clear, once and for all, that enough is enough.

"Throughout this General Election campaign, we will be making absolutely clear our commitment to build a country for the many, and not just the few.

"A vital part of that will be creating an education system that provides for every child regardless of their background, or their parents' income."

Mr Corbyn described the estimated £3 billion shortfall in school budgets as "the first real terms cut in education budgets for a generation".

"This is an absolutely staggering figure and shows the need for a complete change of direction in how this government and any government treats our schools," he said.

The Labour leader went on to say: "Why are our children's schools not getting the funding that they deserve? This is a choice. And it is the wrong choice.

"To cut school funding is in breach of the manifesto on which this government was elected when they said they were going to protect school funding.

"Labour will ensure schools have the resources they need.

"I cannot give you a sneak preview of the full manifesto today, it's not even in my pocket, I'm afraid you'll have to wait for that.

"But be assured if it's a choice between a tax giveaway to the largest corporations paying the lowest rates of tax in the developed world, or funding for our schools, our choice will be very, very different from the choice that's been made up to now."

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: "If Jeremy Corbyn's Labour was serious about investing in public services they wouldn't have given Theresa May a blank cheque to pursue a damaging hard Brexit that will wreck the economy.

"You can't have good schools with a hard Brexit."