Education Secretary Justine Greening told MPs she recognised there was concern over school funding and has announced schools will receive an extra £1.3bn over two years. However this is not ‘new’ education money, instead it will be taken from elsewhere in the education budget including £280 million from the free-schools programme.
In 2018-2019 the budget will increase from £41bn to £42.4bn and £43.5bn in 2019-20. The plans will protect per pupil funding in ‘real-terms.’
During the General Election school funding became a major issue, the Conservative manifesto pledged that no schools would see their budgets cut as a result of the proposed national funding formula, and to increase the schools budget by £4 billion by 2022.
The Conservatives had promised an extra £1bn per year, which on top of planned increases, would have meant the core schools budget rising by about £4bn in 2021-22.
Most of this extra funding was going to come from scrapping free meals for all infants, a policy which was then withdrawn.
Earlier this month, Ms Greening had demanded that the government publicly commit, before the summer holiday, to give schools an extra £1.2bn.
Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday Ms Greening said this “significant investment” would help to “raise standards, promote social mobility and to give every child the best possible education.”
Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner accused the Conservatives of being in “full retreat from their own manifesto.”
“Astoundingly, this has all been funded without a penny of new money from the Treasury – perhaps the Chancellor didn’t want to fund schools and thought that teachers and teaching assistants were just more overpaid public servants,” she said.
Leader of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) Kevin Courtney said: “We have told the Government that schools are facing big real terms cuts. The Government has had to recognise that fact. This extra money is welcome but it is nowhere near enough.”
Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman, said that it is a “desperate attempt to pull the wool over people’s eyes.”
“Instead of providing the £4bn of extra funding promised in their manifesto, the Conservatives are recycling cash from the education budget,” she said.
“It is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Schools are still facing cuts to their budgets once inflation and increasing class sizes are taken into account.”
Ms Greening, who addressed the cash as the biggest increase in schools funding in a decade, is a queue of ministers that have called for more cash for her department – but she has apparently failed to convince the Chancellor to provide extra funding.
For many years there have been complaints that schools in different parts of the country were receiving different levels of per pupil funding. She said the new formula would go ahead and would address unfair and inconsistent levels of funding. Under the new arrangements, from 2018-19, the minimum funding per secondary pupil would be set at £4,800 per year.
Details of an updated version of the formula, with budgets for individual schools, are being promised for the Autumn.
July 18, 2017