Nadhim Zahawi fumbles in BBC interview about teachers’ pay
Indy

The education minister was just shown how just much school funding has changed under Tories and it made for awkward viewing.

Nadhim Zahawi appeared on Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday show today and was presented with a stark graph showing the change in funding per-pupil between state and private schools since the Conservative came to power in 2010.

The gap between state school spending and private school fees in England has more than doubled in a decade.

Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found average private school fees were £6,500 (92 per cent) higher than state funding in 2020-21.

In 2009-10, the gap was just £3,100, or about 39 per cent.

With this in mind, Ridge said: "If you are a parent looking at this, what do you think you would conclude about how the Conservatives prioritise state school pupils?"

Zahawi said that there was a financial crisis in 2008 and we had to "tighten our belts" to "try and get the economy back on its feet". He then said the pandemic triggered huge spending to "protect jobs" and businesses and that he had secured £7bn of extra funding by 2024/5.

But Ridge wasn't satisfied with his response. "It's effectively restoring per-pupil funding to 2010 levels. You've got a lost decade haven't you, effectively of growth in funding for comprehensive schools and state school pupils?

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"We had to get through the financial crisis," Zahawi said.

"On the backs of state school pupil funding," Ridge replied.

It comes after it was announced that all schools in England will have to open for at least 32.5 hours a week.

The length of the school day is currently decided by the headteacher with the governing body in England but the government think increasing the average school day by around 20 minutes will help students. Zahawi is also due to set out the government's wider plans for schools in England this week in a white paper.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the show Zahawi defended his predecessor Gavin Williamson receiving a knighthood and said closing schools during the coronavirus pandemic was a "mistake".

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