Former schools minister David Laws warns of loopholes over school funding

Writing in the TES, former coalition government schools minister David Laws warns about complacency over the government’s spending review.

…The protection of the schools’ budget has a number of loopholes in it. The first is that, while the overall dedicated schools grant will rise in line with inflation, the growing number of pupils means that the per-pupil amount will remain frozen. In addition, schools have to meet additional costs caused by the increases to both public sector pay and employer National Insurance contributions. According to Institute for Fiscal Studies forecasts, this will create a 7.5 per cent pressure on schools by 2020. The decision to hold the pupil premium rate flat is also disappointing…

There is also a misconception that the schools’ budget being ringfenced includes all the money that schools currently receive. It doesn’t. The education services grant is one of a number of other grants that are paid to schools outside of the protected dedicated schools grant. It is currently worth £820 million and is intended to pay for services including education welfare officers, school improvement and wider curriculum support for pupils.

The chancellor’s plan to save £600 million by “phasing out” the education services grant is deeply worrying…

The promise of a new national funding formula might help to alleviate the pressure for some of the lowest funded schools across the country. But as CentreForum warned, there are still a lot of important decisions that need to be made and consulted upon before a new formula can be implemented…

Finally, it is equally important that the “protection” of the 16-19 funding rate is properly understood. It is only the base rate that is protected, meaning that the DfE has given itself room to cut the supplements for disadvantaged students and those with learning disabilities, as well as funding for programmes which are genuinely more expensive such as engineering and agriculture…

David Laws is executive chair of CentreForum, an independent thinktank

More at: ‘There is a misconception that the schools’ budget being ringfenced includes all the money that schools currently receive. It doesn’t.’

 

See more on the Spending Review from CentreForum at: More than 700 academies set to lose over £100,000 each – the Chancellor’s strange definition of ‘protection’ for schools

 

Your thoughts on the comments and warning made here by David Laws?

Was the general sigh of relief after Wednesday’s Spending Review perhaps a little premature?

 

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