Today comes the long awaited spending review by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne
Here are the key points with respect to education;
Education department budget will rise to £53bn in 2015-16
The Department for Education and Skills spending has been ring-fenced once again
Schools spending will be allocated in a ‘fairer’ way across the country with a ‘New National Funding Formula” which, as BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson tweets, hails a ‘historic reform’ but it’s impact is unclear.
Education capital budget set at £4.6bn in 2015-16
Pupil premium protected in real terms, but no mention of increasing to £900 per pupil as expected before.
The government will provide funding for 180 controversial new Free Schools in 2015-16 to allow in increase in places for our children.
Well on the face of it, this seems a positive step in our system with a rise in budgets, ring-fencing budget once again, new funding formula to allocate to schools fairly across the country, increase in capital budget and protecting the pupil premium for the lower income families, and the number of places in schools looks to increase over the next couple of years.
However there are some things that I am disappointed by. One is Mr Osborne’s praise of Michael Gove’s work, which we all know how that went down. Even in the House, people were jeering at that remark. It’s totally obvious that bringing back an age old education system, schoolifying our early years education by shifting from play based learning, tampering with a primary curriculum and GCSEs, raising the tuition fees for higher education is totally a fantastic job.
The other big disappointment for me was the fact that the Pupil Premium has not risen to the £900 per pupil, however this has only been announced that it will be protected at £600. This means that there is not a potential improvement for those from lower income families to aim for targeting the 23% average achievement gap in GCSE results which we had last year.
The main factor which is depressing for me, is the fact that all these announcements are for 2 years time. Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls rightly points out that we do not want all these actions in a couple of years time, we need these things to happen in the much shorter term. Although if you think about it, it’s all set for after the next election.
Ed Balls also makes an interesting point about Free Schools. He asks Mr Osborne; “Why are you funding Free Schools in areas with enough places for the local children, when there are parents who cannot get their children to a local school?” Mr Balls I’m sorry but you have added a bit to the announcement that wasn’t there. Mr Osborne didn’t make it very clear as to which Free Schools will be funded, and the locations of these schools, and how it will impact on the places for children in schools.
Overall, I am a little disappointed with this review, as I’m not a huge fan of Free Schools as they are, this new ‘funding formula’ is unclear, I’m gutted strongly about the Pupil Premium and no mention of funding to deal with the Achievement Gap we had last year, and none of these changes are happening now, they are happening come in the eve or some cases the day of the next General Election, which means that a lot of this may not even happen if Labour win the next Election and come into power.
What do you think? Did you get what you expected from this, or are you as disappointed as I am? Comment your thoughts, and share this, retweet to your followers, let’s get a big discussion going on what is a big issue 🙂