'Tough times, tough choices' on school cash, says Balls Skip to main content

'Tough times, tough choices' on school cash, says Balls

By Sean Coughlan
BBC News education correspondent

Ed Balls
Ed Balls warns of even "tougher times ahead" for school budgets
Tough choices on whether to protect school funding in England will be at the heart of the general election, says Children's Secretary Ed Balls.
In a speech to a teachers' conference, Mr Balls will say his Tory opponents must decide whether they want to fund schools or "pay for tax cuts".

Mr Balls accuses the Tories of playing "Santa Claus" with funding promises.
The Conservatives have promised extra cash for poorer pupils and funds to allow parents to set up schools.
With the election campaign drawing closer, Mr Balls is set to deliver a strong attack on the credibility of the school funding plans of his political opponents.
'Big choice'
His speech to the NASUWT teachers' conference will also acknowledge that whoever is next in office, there will be "tougher times ahead".
Michael Gove
Michael Gove wants to fund parents to set up their own schools
Mr Balls will tell teachers in Birmingham that voters face a "big choice" on how schools should be supported when public spending is being reduced.
"Do we keep funding per pupil rising despite tougher times or do we cut school budgets and see class sizes rise to pay for tax cuts?" he will ask.
Mr Balls will claim that the Conservatives will need to cut school funding to pay for other promises, such as the freezing of national insurance.
"The Tories are being completely dishonest with the British people," Mr Balls will tell the conference.
"The shadow schools secretary Michael Gove is like Santa Claus. He's going round the country promising any group of parents who want a new school, even where there are already surplus places, that they can have one whatever the cost.
"But he isn't telling parents that the only way he can pay for this is by cutting the budgets of all the other schools in the area."
"And now, Michael Gove also has to find billions of pounds from the schools budget to pay for George Osborne's national insurance freeze. But he won't explain where the cuts would fall."
Spending pressures
Mr Balls will set out his own party's promises to protect pupil funding, provide one-to-one catch-up lessons and to guarantee a sixth form or training place for school leavers.
David Laws
David Laws says his party is the most transparent in funding plans
But he will also warn that schools will no longer be able to expect the increase in per pupil funding that they have had in recent years.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families is already set to lose £1.1bn in "efficiency savings" by 2012-13, as part of a funding plan which will also provide a 0.7% annual increase for "front line" school budgets.
Mr Balls will be the last of three education spokesmen to have addressed the NASUWT conference, an event which could be the last major education forum before the election is called.
Conservative schools spokesman Michael Gove set out the case for his free schools policy, which would allow parents or other groups to receive funding to set up their own schools.
Mr Gove said there was evidence from other countries that introducing a wider range of providers could invigorate the schools system and give parents more choice.
David Laws, schools spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said that his party's plan for a "pupil premium", targeting cash at disadvantaged pupils, was the only proposal that would guarantee extra funds for schools.
Mr Laws claimed that the Conservative pupil premium policy would depend on taking money from other school budgets and the Labour pupil premium announcement was a "repackaging exercise" using existing funding.

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