‘Nurseries, schools and FE colleges should be breathing a huge sigh of relief’

Writing in the TES, Jonathan Simons, the head of education at Policy Exchange, says George Osborne’s Spending Review has been much less severe in its impact on education than many expected (although there are still some stings in the tail).

…At about 1.15pm today, the chancellor announced that the DfE’s unprotected budget would go down by just 6 per cent in real terms between now and the end of the Parliament. In cash terms, the budget will actually rise – from £53.6 billion to £57.1 billion. (BIS budget will be cut by 17 per cent, but again the fears of many in FE that their budget would be decimated have not come to pass, with adult FE spending being protected in cash terms).

This is a staggeringly good result for DfE and the education system in general. Before today, we knew that core 5-16 schools funding would be protected in cash terms per pupil. The spending review has now confirmed this (in fact, owing to a slight increase in the budget, it is now technically being protected in real terms at an aggregate level). But the spending review also had good news for the unprotected areas of the DfE’s budget. The capital budget has been increased by £7 billion over the previously announced figure, which will pay for much-needed school places across the country, including in 500 new free schools…

So where’s the sting in the tail? Three things; two old and one new. The first is that the core budget for schools (and colleges for 16- to 18-year-olds) will only be protected in cash terms, not real terms, so inflation will partly eat away at it. Second, the national funding formula, confirmed today, will likely mean some sort of reallocation away from some schools towards others. And the third, which was newly announced today, was a scrapping of Education Services Grant (ESG) by the end of this Parliament (although a small amount will be retained for local authorities to spend). 

There’s no doubt then that schools will still feel chill winds in the next few years through a combination of the three factors above.

But… all in all, if I were working in a nursery, school or FE college today, I would be breathing a huge sigh of relief…

More at: ‘Nurseries, schools and FE colleges should be breathing a huge sigh of relief’


Do you share this relatively upbeat assessment of the Spending Review from Jonathan Simons?

Please let us know why/why not in the comments or via Twitter…


Read or download the spending review in full:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://4cpa373vsw6v3t1suthjdjgv-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/52229_Blue_Book_PU1865_Web_Accessible.pdf”]

And more from the DfE: Department for Education’s settlement at the Spending Review 2015


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Categories: Academies and Policy.


  1. Simons is right – the stings are in the tail.  And they negate the supposed windfalls.  It’s only FE ‘adult’ spending which is saved not funding for non-adult FE which forms the bulk of FE provision.  Inflation will reduce the value of the money coming to schools at a time costs (national insurance etc) are rising.  And academies won’t be breathing a sigh of relief but taking sharp intakes of breath as they realise the money they were given to pay for those LA services funded by the small part of their overall budget retained by LAs for this purpose is now to be removed.  They weren’t told that when they were lured by promises of being able to spend their entire budgets.

  2. JudithBosavern

    SchoolsImprove Yes if they didn’t look properly. Flatlining, end of ESG, reduced entitlement to 30 hour free childcare …and more 1/2

  3. JudithBosavern

    SchoolsImprove Yes if they didn’t look properly. Flatlining, end of ESG, reduced entitlement to 30 hour free childcare …and more 1/2

  4. JudithBosavern

    SchoolsImprove 2/2 +impact of national schools funding formula, attack on LAs, hard to plan for the future. Thanks, GeorgeOsborne

  5. TW

    Janet2  Well, except academies were not just given the equivalent of “the small part of their overall budget retained by LAs”.  They were given far more than that as a bribe to undermine the system by becoming academies.  Now that they have served their purpose there is no reason for the bribe to continue.  Academies, in most cases, only have themselves to blame.

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