Tuesday, 3 October 2017

School Budgets

Children have gone back to school, but governors, teachers and parents are still no wiser about school budgets for the next three years.
The 2015 Conservative manifesto promise to maintain school budgets through to 2020 has already been broken. The Core Schools Budget has been falling since 2015, for the first time since before 1997. Analysis by the National Audit Office suggest that school budgets have been cut by some £2.7 billion in real terms since 2015.
The Conservative government is still planning to introduce a National Funding Formula for schools, which would redistribute the existing national schools budget. The redistribution would not only impact on differentials between areas throughout England, but also between schools in the same area.
When the then Deputy Prime Minister, having previously promised every school in his Sheffield Hallam constituency that they would be better resourced by a national funding formula, the former MP Nick Clegg went strangely quiet when this proved to be far from the case. Perhaps it’s part of the explanation for him being the former MP?
When the government’s latest plans were announced last year, they were met with opposition from many Conservative MPs when it emerged that many schools in their areas would lose out under the plans.
The consultation on the government’s plans closed a while ago now. The Secretary of State had said that the government would respond recently. But Mrs May’s government is looking so weak and wobbly that no-one will be surprised if there is another delay.
In the 2017 general election manifesto, Mrs May made a pledge that no school would lose funding as a result of the introduction of a new National Funding Formula. Then, in July, the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, outlined an increase in the amount of funding each pupil would receive in 2018-19 and 2019-20, with additional increases for ‘underfunded schools’. But no details are available.
While the Secretary of State has outlined plans for an increase in funding of £1.3 billion across 2018-19 and 2019-20, this would do nothing to reverse the impact of existing cuts and schools across the country, so schools  will still be worse off than they were in 2015.
It has also become clear that these ‘additional resources’ for the schools’ budget are to be funded by a series of cuts to other education budgets, but Ms Greening has refused to say where and what the impact will be.
Unsurprisingly, she has continually ducked the basic question: Will there be any schools who will be worse off, in real terms, in 2020 than they are now?

I can tell you the answer: “Most of them.”