Exclusive: Tory Deputy Chair demands "misleading" school cuts site be taken down

Friday, February 15, 2019

A senior Tory MP has written to a group of union leaders demanding a website carrying claims about school funding cuts should be "immediately taken down."

Tory Deputy Chairman James Cleverly wrote to the Joint Secretaries of the National Education Union about schoolcuts.org.uk after a probe by national statistics watchdog the UK Statistics Authority,

Mr Cleverly said in the letter to Dr Mary Bousted and Mr Kevin Courtney: “I am writing to you as Joint Secretaries of the National Education Union which operates the schoolcuts.org.uk website on behalf of a 'coalition of partners' to request that you immediately take down this website. This is in light of the verdict from the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) that the figures on the website are 'misleading'. 

"In December 2018, I wrote to the UKSA to outline my concerns with the misleading claims that the School Cuts website has produced in relation to school funding. I highlighted that your website uses data and calculations which deliberately misrepresent the statistics. I pointed out that that the School Cuts website uses a methodology which is fundamentally flawed and skewed towards generating 'cuts' — despite the government spending a record amount on schools.

“These figures have also been used as part of a wider campaign, which have appeared on banners attached to schools and have been used by Labour MPs in the House of Commons.”


'Totally inappropriate'

The letter from James Cleverly

Mr Cleverly continues: "It is totally inappropriate for your website to stoke up fear among parents and children in what I can only conclude is a politically motivated statement."

UKSA chair Sir David Norgrove found that the website “mixes reductions in school budgets that have already taken place and those projected to take place in the future.”

He wrote in his findings last month: "We believe the headline statement that “91% of schools face funding cuts” risks giving a misleading impression of future changes in school budgets. The method of calculation may also give a misleading impression of the scale of change for some particular schools.

"We have shared our findings with the analyst responsible for the website."

Despite the ruling the claims remain online.

The NEU was contacted for comment.