The Government’s Spending Review: Education

In the second blog post on the Government’s Spending Review, I thought I would cover the educational elements of the review. I do have to point out must of the detail has not been released, and will only know of the impact of the headlines when these details are made public in the next month or so.

The Department for Education (DfE) ‘central children’s services budget’ will be protected at over £300m per year ‘to help drive up social care workforce standards to improve support for vulnerable children’.

An increase of £1bn in funding per year by 2019-20 to support the extension of free childcare places for 2, 3 and 4 year-olds will be made available.

Free childcare for working parents of 3-4 year olds will be doubled from 15 to 30 hours per week from September 2017. This is restricted to families with an upper income limit of £100,000 and a minimum weekly income level per parent equivalent to 16 hours.

As for capital funding for new school places in primary and secondary schools, the Government has said in the Spending Review, £23bn will be made available over the period to support the creation of 600,000 school places, the opening of 500 new free schools, and the rebuilding and refurbishing over 500 schools. In Cornwall, we are providing new school places in our recently approved strategy, but this only takes up to the 2017/18 period. I really hope some of the £23bn will come to Cornwall.

Furthermore, capital funding of at least £50m will be made available to create additional places in nurseries.

In the Spending Review, it highlights its aim in addressing essential maintenance needs. This point is interesting, as to date, the Government has not addressed this area. for example Cornwall looking at least a £90m maintance backlog, but only having £5m/£6m to try to tackle the backlog.

Over £300m a year will be made available to increase the average hourly rate paid to childcare providers. Universal Infant School Meal funding is also set to stay.

The Government said they will protect the core schools budget in real terms enabling the per-pupil rate for the Dedicated Schools Grant to be protected in cash terms and the pupil premium will be maintained at current rates. Thought the latter does not take into consideration of inflation.

A worry is the announcement that the Education Services Grant will be reduced by around £600m, including phasing out the additional funding schools receive through the grant.

It is no surprise to see the Government re-affirm it aims of having no local authority schools and the removal – as yet unknown – statutory duties on local authorities in relation to schools. For the first-time there has been a clear message to Sixth Form Colleges who will be able to become academies, allowing them to recover their non-business VAT costs. No doubt in the first phase it will be to encourage, but in reality, they will have no choice but to convert.

The current national base rate per student for 16 to 19 year olds in school sixth forms, sixth form colleges and further education colleges will be protected in cash terms for the Spending Review period. Yet, this is after funding cuts in this sector have already been implemented, like for Sixth Forms where they saw a reduction in funding of £800 per pupil.

A new funding system for schools will be introduced from 2017-18. A detailed consultation on the specifics of the proposed new system will be published in early 2016. It is about time the Government addressed this, as I have highlighted on this blog before the huge differences in funding between local authorities.  This new national funding formula will include elements for schools, high needs and early years.




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