The March 2017 Budget and its impact on education
The Government’s Budget is one of those announcements where people take a sharp intake of breath in anticipation of the pain it will inflict. We all know those who smoke and drink will from the announcement pay more.
So how will this Budget affect education and children’s social care? The Chancellor has announced a one-off fund of £320m will be made for the creation of 140 new free schools, 30 of which form part of the 500 already pledged to be created by 2020. These new free schools could in areas where they are not need, whereas this money could be better spent on improving/expanding existing schools that are in dire need of money.
This announcement of new schools is where the Government introduces its plan for expanding Grammar School or providing new Grammar Schools – or as they should be called selective education (which does not actually improve outcomes, especially for the most vulnerable or on Free School Meals).
Another worry is the Government has also said that free school transport will be extended to all children who receive free school meals and who attend a selective school. Yet they have not said if this extra costs will be met by the Government. I expect, in reality, it will be the local authority who will have to find the money to pay for this. How will this work? What happens if the nearest selective school is many miles away and is not their nearest designated school? That impacts on Admission as well as Home to School Policy
There will be a £216m investment to rebuild and refurbish existing schools. Seems a lot of money, but it is not; as to put it in perspective and show how little it will really mean for schools, Cornwall has a school maintenance backlog that tops over £90m because of historic under-funding. So £216m million is not going to go far split between England and Wales’ local authorities.
In an interesting move, and what could potentially be a good idea, the Government has provided an extra £500m for vocational and technical education, as an alternative to A-levels (T-levels). This is in a bid to train more skilled workers and boost the economy. However, this is not a new idea and has been around under a different name.
Maintenance loans will be made available for students pursuing technical education at
higher levels. Though there are no real details on how this will be run.
There is news for tax-free childcare for children under 12 providing up to £2,000 a year for each child: and from September 2017 the free childcare offer will double from 15 to 30 hours a week for working families with 3 and 4 year olds worth up to £5,000 for each child. The latter has already been announced and was subject to a campaign in Cornwall to change the funding amounts.
Yet there was no news on the Governments Funding Formula….