Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to find £3 billion to plug the shortfall in school funding – but declined to specify how he would raise the cash.
Speaking at the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) conference in Shropshire, he told delegates that the Labour party is “brave enough” to “fully reverse” the £3 billion of savings that schools need to make by 2019/20, according to the National Audit Office.
Asked by John Gadd, a head teacher of Thomas A Becket Junior School in West Sussex: “Are you brave enough to fully reverse the £3 billion in cuts?”, Mr Corbyn replied: “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”.
The Labour leader went on: “Because it unlocks the potential of children and if you look at it at an economic level further down the line we have a skills shortage across the whole country, we have a lack of investment in skill training for post school”.
“And that means we’ve got to look again at the spending we put into schools and 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 am determined to lead a government that will give the priority it deserves to education, not the blame culture of head teachers and teachers in under funded schools. I am determined to change it.”
Mr Corbyn – who was wearing a Keir Hardy Society badge with the slogan “Socialism Peace Equality” – hinted that he would use a rise on corporation tax to fund his education policies, but said that details will be “revealed in our manifesto”.
He told delegates: “I’m afraid I can’t give you a sneak preview of the full Labour manifesto today 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. Labour will make very different choices from the Conservatives.”