It’s ‘beyond belief’ PM would use ‘discredited’ claim after UKSA censure
Just days after the Department for Education (DfE) received a severe reprimand from the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) about its use of data, the Prime Minister repeated dodgy claims in the House of Commons, Schools Week reports.
It wasn’t as if she hadn’t been given a hint about UKSA’s repeated criticisms of the DfE. Jeremy Corbyn reminded her when he asked about the recommended teachers’ pay rise:
‘In the last year the Education Secretary has been rebuked four times by the statistics watchdog for making false claims about education funding. I know that the Prime Minister is a stickler for accuracy so, given her commitment to ending austerity, can she confirm that austerity is now over for all teachers, who will receive the independently recommended 3.5% pay rise?’
The PM would have been wise not to mention funding given the furore of the last few days. Corbyn hadn’t asked about funding levels, after all. He’d posed a rather vague question rather than directly asking the PM if the Government would fully-fund the pay rise instead of expecting schools to stump up the first 1%.
But, no. The PM said ‘the right hon Gentleman’ knew the announcement about the teachers’ pay rise. It’s rather obvious from Corbyn’s question that he’d grasped this.
The PM followed this insight by saying school funding ‘is at a record high’ without, of course, putting this in the context of rising pupil numbers.
PM acknowledges ‘pressures’ schools are under – but acknowledgement not enough
The PM turned on the sympathy. She knew ‘the pressures that schools are under’ (likely to be worsened by telling schools to partly-fund the pay rise). But she also knew ‘1.9 million more children are now in good and outstanding schools compared with 2010…’
Unfortunately Hansard* doesn’t show whether the PM was greeting with guffaws from the Opposition and groans from her own side.
Government’s either in ‘total chaos’ or ‘deliberately’ misleading public
The shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said it was ‘beyond belief’ that the PM should repeat the ‘discredited’ school inspection claim in the same week UKSA had blasted the DfE for not putting the data in context.
‘Either this is a government in such total chaos’ that the PM was unaware of UKSA’s stern rebuke ‘or she has deliberately repeated a wildly misleading figure…’, Rayner said.
*Hansard record for PMQs on 10 October 2018 is here.