January 8, 2017 at 03:39AM

There was an omission in your article on the public services in 2017 (Society, 4 January): there was no mention of education. Yet the government’s long-awaited announcement of its national funding formula for schools has left head teachers and politicians reeling. The NUT and ATL were accused by the Department for Education of scaremongering when we predicted losses in November through our School Cuts website. But far from scaremongering, the reality is worse than we predicted – 98% of schools will have their per-pupil funding cut, with an average loss per primary pupil of £339, and £477 per secondary pupil. Such is the scale of the problem that even Conservative MPs are now waking up to the fact that schools in their constituencies will suffer unmanageable cuts.

Balancing the books has become the worst aspect of many heads’ jobs. Begging letters to parents for equipment, repairs and resources are common. School staff posts are being left unfilled. Class sizes are increasing and the curriculum is being pared back to the basics, as arts and vocational subjects are being lost. No funding system for schools can be fair unless funding levels are sufficient. The education secretary, Justine Greening, has no option but to insist that our schools are funded to a level where they can operate effectively. Parents, children and young people deserve nothing less.
Kevin Courtney General secretary, National Union of Teachers, Mary Bousted General secretary, Association of Teachers and Lecturers

It is surprising but prescient that you have not included education in your round-up of the challenges facing the public sector. With the increasing privatisation through academies and free schools and the siphoning of public money into corporations via multi-academy trusts, sadly – and appallingly – this omission makes sense. And children are the losers.
Fiona Carnie

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