Longer-term plan, plus multi-billion cash injection for education needed #Edu4_0

The Government must fix the broken education funding system, commit to a multi-billion cash injection for schools and colleges and bring forward a strategic ten-year education funding plan, MPs say today (18 Jul).

The Ten-year plan for school and college funding report by the Education Select Committee says funding has not kept pace with the rising demands placed on schools and colleges.

The Committee’s inquiry found that, as well as coping with growing pupil numbers and rising costs, schools were increasingly being asked to cover additional services without adequate resources – such as:

  • Mental health
  • Social issues
  • More complex special educational needs, and
  • Disabilities provision

Putting the sector under significant strain over the past decade. 

The report shows that further education has been hardest hit, with post-16 funding per student falling by 16% in real terms over the past decade. MPs urge a £1 billion boost.

The report makes the following key recommendations:

  • Ensure schools get the multi-billion pound investment they desperately need;
  • Urgently address underfunding in further education by increasing the base rate from £4,000 to at least £4,760, rising in line with inflation;
  • Increase school funding by raising the age-weighted pupil unit value;
  • Increase high needs funding for special educational needs and disabilities to address a projected £1.2 billion deficit;
  • Implement the full roll-out of the National Funding Formula as soon as feasible, and make the various funding formulae more forward-looking and less reliant on historical factors;
  • Ensure all eligible students attract Pupil Premium and overcome existing barriers to automatic enrolment as a matter of priority;
  • Secure from the Treasury the full amount of estimated Pupil Premium money that has not been claimed because students did not register for free school meals, and allocate this money to disadvantaged children; and
  • Extend the Pupil Premium to provide for 16–19 year olds.

Funding uncertainty for schools and colleges must stop

Robert Halfon 100x100Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Education Committee, said:

“Education is crucial to our nation’s future. It is the driver of future prosperity and provides the ladder of opportunity to transform the life chances of millions of our young people. If it is right that the NHS can have a ten-year plan and a five-year funding settlement, then surely education, perhaps the most important public service, should also have a ten-year plan and a long-term funding settlement.

"Substantial amounts of money have been allocated to education by the Government, but spending has not kept pace with the growing demands placed on our schools and colleges. Alongside the ten-year plan, the Government needs to cover the 8% funding gap currently faced by schools.

"There is a crisis of confidence in the ability of mainstream schools to provide adequate SEND support. This needs to be tackled through increased school funding to support better early intervention. The Government must also spend an extra £1 billion to address the projected high needs deficit. There should be automatic enrolment so all eligible students receive Pupil Premium, and previously unclaimed money should be clawed back from the Treasury to help the most disadvantaged pupils. Pupil Premium should also be extended to 16-19 education.

"Given the march of the robots and the rise of automation, it is extraordinary that further education has for so long been starved of cash. Funding further education properly must sit at the heart of a ten-year plan.

"To make sure we are giving schools and colleges the money they need, we are calling for a comprehensive, bottom-up national assessment of the real-world costs of delivering a quality education. A proper ten-year plan and long-term funding settlement would provide stability for schools and colleges and help ensure that our education system is fit for the 21st century.”

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KevinCourtney100x100Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“This all-party report is a vindication of the School Cuts campaign and every single teacher and parent who has called out the Government on its negligence in failing to fund schools and colleges. This is the Conservatives’ own mess. The question now is whether the new Prime Minister will listen.  Candidates have pledged extra money for education during their campaigns, but schools need more than promises on the side of a bus. Schools need real money for real children in real schools now.

“The report sets out the scale of the cuts in funding per student and the impact they have had on post-16 education, high needs funding and school funding generally.  The report is also right to point out that the basic unit of funding (the “AWPU”) is simply not enough.

“We agree with the Select Committee that education needs a 10-year plan for funding like that for the NHS, and we have recently proposed exactly that.

“The NEU, with the f40 local authorities group, ASCL and NAHT, has published a complete assessment of the extra funding needed to reverse the cuts made in recent years.  We are proposing an immediate increase of £3bn in order to restore half of the £5.9bn current funding loss, followed by a 3.5% real-terms increase every year for the next six years.  This is the same strategy as adopted for the NHS plan.  The new Prime Minister must consider this alongside the Select Committee proposals.”

Layla Moran100x100Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:

“Over the past few years, our schools and colleges have been cut to the bone, as funding levels failed to keep up with spiralling costs and increased pupil numbers.

"Teachers have been forced to buy resources out of their own pockets, teaching assistants have been let go, and tens of schools have been shutting their doors early.

“Today’s report shows that MPs across all parties are not prepared to see our schools and colleges face years of continued uncertainty. Yet this is exactly what the Conservative Government has created. They have seemingly scrapped an announcement on schools funding planned for this week and have not yet told teachers how much they’ll be paid next year. 

“Liberal Democrats demand better for our children and teachers. That is why we are campaigning for an emergency cash injection into our schools and colleges, so that they have the resources teachers need to teach and pupils need to learn.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

“We welcome this detailed and considered report from the Education Select Committee and will respond in full in due course.

“While it is accurate to say that school funding is at its highest level, we do recognise that there are budgeting challenges.  This government is investing more than ever before in early education and childcare and since 2010 the overall core schools budget for 5 to 16 year olds has been protected in real terms.

“We have also protected the base rate of funding for 16 to 19 year olds until 2020 and are providing additional funding for the delivery of the new gold standard T Levels, rising to an additional £500m every year once they are fully rolled out.

“We are glad to see that school and further education funding is being highlighted as an important issue ahead of the next spending review, where the Education Secretary will back the sector to have the resources they need to deliver world-class standards across the board.”

"The Committee’s report makes some useful observations about the pupil premium that we will respond to after careful consideration.

"We want schools to have the best evidence when they face the challenge of prioritising the way they use their resources, including the £2.4bn we’re investing again through the pupil premium this year; the new guidance available through the Education Endowment Foundation will help schools make good choices to improve their disadvantaged pupils’ outcomes.

"Since 2010, the overall core schools budget for 5 to 16 year olds has been protected in real terms. School funding in England is at its highest ever level, rising from almost £41bn in 2017-18 to £43.5bn by 2019-20. IFS analysis has shown that real terms per pupil funding for 5-16 year olds will be more than 50% higher in 2020 than it was in 2000.

"We have increased high needs funding for children and young people with the most complex SEND from £5 billion in 2013 to £6.3 billion in 2019-20. This includes an additional £250m announced last December.

"Overall, we are investing almost £7 billion during 2018/19 to make sure there is a place in education or training for every 16 to 19‐year old who wants one which has contributed to the record high proportion of 16 and 17 year olds currently participating in education or apprenticeships.

"The government is investing more than ever before in early education and childcare, including £3.5 billion in the free childcare offers this year alone, and 95 per cent of providers on the early years register, who have been inspected, are rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted."

The report can be viewed on the Committee’s website.

Education Committee Membership: Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP (Con, Harlow), Lucy Allan MP (Con, Telford), Ben Bradley MP (Con, Mansfield), Marion Fellows MP (SNP, Motherwell and Wishaw), James Frith MP (Lab, Bury North), Emma Hardy MP (Lab, Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle), Ian Mearns MP (Lab, Gateshead), Lucy Powell MP (Lab Co-op, Manchester Central), Thelma Walker MP (Lab, Colne Valley), William Wragg MP (Con, Hazel Grove).

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