Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, has delivered his spring Budget to the House of Commons.
Confirming announcements made earlier in the week Mr Hammond set out:
The extension of the free schools programme, with investment of £320 million for 140 new free schools
£216 million of capital funding to help rebuild and refurbish existing schools
The expansion of the current 'extended rights' entitlement for children who access free home-to-school travel to cover selective schools
A new education White Paper to be published in the coming months, paving the way for selective free schools.
Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governors’ Association, said: “It is disappointing that there was nothing in today’s Budget about increasing the amount of money for each pupil, especially given the urgency of the school funding crisis and the range of organisations and campaign groups, across the education sector, calling on the chancellor to deliver the investment schools desperately need.
“While on paper the government is giving more money than ever before, everyone knows it does not address the fact that the pupil population is increasing and costs are rising for schools.
"It is particularly galling that pots of money can be found for projects which are not supported by the vast majority of the education sector, such as increasing selection, when schools are being told there is nothing available to cover rising costs.
“We agree with the Chancellor that investing in education and skills is the most important thing that we can do to equip our children for the future. Therefore we need to ensure there is the enough in the basic budget for every pupil in England to secure a good education.”
NGA has been campaigning for the overall amount of money for each pupil to be increased, and an immediate cash injection of 3%.
In 2016 NGA reported funding shortages are already having a detrimental impact on schools. In a survey of 5000 governors and trustees in England, 26% reported having made redundancies in the previous 12 months – but this number increased to 55% among secondary schools. 60% said that financial constraints would mean they need to reduce spending on staff over the next two years, rising to 77% for secondary schools.33% of those responding said that their school's offer to pupils has been reduced as a result of funding constraints and, again, this included 60% of secondary school governors and trustees.
NGA’s findings are backed up by the National Audit Office which has forecast an 8% real-terms reduction in per-pupil funding for mainstream schools between 2014-15 and 2019-20 due to cost pressures. This is because, while the 2015 Spending Review protected the overall schools budget from inflation, the projected increase in pupil numbers mean that funding per pupil will on average see a real-terms reduction once inflation is taken into account. On top of this, schools are already absorbing higher costs through higher employer national insurance and pension contributions. When the apprenticeship levy comes into operation in April, this will put further strain on the budgets of many maintained schools.
In Schools Week today, Russell Hobby, NAHT General Secretary, has said: “writing to the Chancellor, along with the National Governors’ Association ahead of the Budget, NAHT set out a number of practical solutions to the funding crisis. All were ignored.
“We know through our campaigning work that many MPs understand the pressures schools in their constituency face. The government often states that the proposed national funding formula will deliver for schools. But without sufficient funding in the first place, this will only succeed in distributing inadequate resources in a more equitable way.”
Mr Hammond also spoke about improving the parity of esteem between academic education and technical education. He announced that time spent by students doing technical training will increase by 50% and students undertaking technical qualification will have access to student loans, like students at university.
Mr Hammond announced that the Department for Education (DfE) will undertake pilots to access different approaches to encouraging lifelong learning, and confirmed that the Government will fund the planned DfE sports initiative to the full £1bn expected.
From autumn 2017, the Chancellor is moving the Budget from March to the autumn. This is intended to put an end to tax announcements being made twice a year in the Budget and Autumn Statement.
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