Jeremy Corbyn has accused prime minister Theresa May of being in “outright denial” about cuts to the arts in state schools.
The Labour leader used a question in Prime Minister’s Question Time to launch a scathing attack on the government’s “brutal cuts to school funding”, that he said had impacted the arts the most.
“The creative industries are an enormous strength, so why have the arts borne the brunt of the government’s brutal cuts to school funding?” he asked, adding that children had been losing out on music and arts in schools because of central government decisions.
He continued: “Are the artists of tomorrow only to come from private schools while she continues to cut the funding for state schools? When the prime minister says funding has been protected, she is denying the daily experience of teachers, parents and pupils. She is denying the incontrovertible evidence of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and of teaching unions. She is in outright denial.”
Corbyn claimed that the wealth of the richest 1,000 people had increased by £50 billion in the past year alone, and added: “Don’t tell us the money isn’t there for children’s schools.”
He called on May to “name a more damaging and short-sighted policy than cutting investment in our future and our children”.
His comments follow calls from MPs, who last week urged the government to take more responsibility to ensure schools provide the arts as part of a “broad and balanced curriculum”, rather than simply expecting them to do so.
Responding to Corbyn, May said the richest people had paid more tax under this Conservative government than in any year under a Labour government.
“We are putting record funding into our schools, but what matters is the quality of the education that our children are getting. Labour wants to scrap academies and free schools, and they would abolish SATs. That does not help raise standards in schools,” she said.
May warned that a Labour government would result in “less opportunity for young people”.