Cameron pledges to protect school budget – but admits to ‘real-terms’ cut

David Cameron has promised to protect state school pupil funding if the Conservatives remain in power.

The prime minister made the pledge today as one of his party’s five key education commitments in their manifesto.

Under the party’s plans, schools spending per pupil would be protected in cash terms over the next Parliament – with the flat rate paid per pupil remaining at the level it is now. Due to rising pupil numbers, schools could therefore expect to see an overall increase in their budgets.

However, he admitted that as a result of inflation this would amount to a real-terms cut per pupil.

He said: “We are saying very clearly, when it comes to schools, that money that follows your child into the school, that money won’t be cut. And the consequence for that will be an increase in the schools budget.

“The amount of cash per child is not going up by inflation, the amount of cash is staying the same.”

Explaining that education was at the “heart” of the Conservative’s election campaign Mr Cameron also said that every failing or ‘coasting’ school “would be turned into an academy”. Free schools would also continue to open in areas wanting them.

In addition, Mr Cameron promised to recruit an extra 17,500 physics and maths teachers; fund three million more apprenticeships by 2020 and re-confirmed a national citizen service place for every teenager that wanted one – a pledge first unveiled at the Conservative Party Conference.

During the speech at Kingsmead School in Enfield – one of the first schools to convert to an academy – Mr Cameron, said: “A good education should not be a luxury. It is something everyone should get.

“We are waging war on mediocrity. There will be no more bog standard schools.”

As trailered in the morning papers, the prime minister announced that up to 3,500 “underperforming or coasting” schools will automatically be considered for academy status.

Schools rated as “requiring improvement” could have new leadership imposed on them.

Already schools that receive three consecutive “requires improvement” judgments are forced into becoming an academy but this proposal will speed up the process.

Typically, those schools will have all leaders replaced – though that is not always the case – and Mr Cameron said: “I’m absolutely convinced academies are the way forward.”

He pledged to have the best teaching in place “to make us the best in maths, science and computing” while the extra apprenticeships would be paid for by reducing the benefit cap from £26,000 to £23,000.

More than 130,000 youngsters have already completed national citizen service and Mr Cameron wants to open that up to every teenager.

Rounding off the speech by thanking parents, teachers, pupils and governors he said: “If we stick to the plan we can reach our goal.”

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