Today’s news review looks at criticism from six teaching unions on the National Funding Formula (NFF) and new analysis from research company High Fliers on the graduate recruitment market.
National Funding Formula
Today, Monday 16 January, six of the main teaching unions released a press notice criticising the National Funding Formula (NFF) and calling on the government to put more money into schools. The ATL, GMB, NAHT, NUT, Unison and Unite claim that 98 percent of schools face real terms reductions in funding under the new funding formula.
The story was picked up by a number of outlets, including BBC Online, the i, Huffington Post, the Times, Guardian, the Sun, Daily Mirror and Daily Mail.
However, much of the coverage failed to reflect that school funding is at its highest level on record and will be over £40billion in 2016-17. The unions’ analysis suggests that money is being taken out of the system, which is absolutely not the case.
We have also protected per pupil funding, which means that as pupil numbers rise so will the money that schools receive.
The NFF, which is currently out for consultation, is about the distribution of school funding, not the overall funding that schools receive. It sets out to end the historic postcode lottery that existed in the past. This meant that two schools with exactly the same needs in different parts of the country could receive completely different levels of funding. The new proposed formula will fund schools according to the needs of their pupils rather than where they live.
Of course we also recognise that schools are facing cost pressures, along with the majority of public institutions. That is why we are proactively offering advice and support to help them be more cost efficient.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
These figures are fundamentally misleading. School funding is at its highest level on record and will be over £40billion in 2016-17. They have completely ignored the fact that as pupil numbers rise so will the amount of money schools receive. To suggest that we are taking money out of the system is simply incorrect. What the unions are doing is blurring two separate debates – the total level of funding for schools and the distribution of that funding.
We have set out proposals to end the historic postcode lottery in school funding. Under the proposed national schools funding formula, more than half of England’s schools will receive a cash boost in 2018-19. This will help to create a system that funds schools according to the needs of their pupils rather than where they live - disparities in the current school funding system mean a school could get 50% more if it were situated in another part of the country. We have also announced further investment of £190million to provide more support to underperforming schools and ensure the number of good school places continues to rise.
However, we recognise that schools are facing cost pressures, which is why we will continue to provide advice and support to help them use their funding in cost effective ways, including improving the way they buy goods and services, so they get the best possible value for their pupils.
The Graduate Market in 2017
Today, Monday 16 January, research company High Fliers published ‘The Graduate Market in 2017’, the latest analysis of the graduate vacancies and starting salaries in the UK.
The top findings include that the number of graduates hired by the UK’s top employers rose by 1.6 percent in 2016.
Employers also plan to increase their graduate recruitment by a further 4.3 percent in 2017, the fifth consecutive year that graduate vacancies have grown.
The research was covered in PA, Daily Express and MailOnline.
This analysis provides encouraging evidence of the health of the UK’s higher education sector in a competitive market. We are building on this with the Higher Education and Research Bill, which goes further to ensure that universities give young people the best possible start in their careers.
Jo Johnson, Universities Minister, said:
The fact that our country’s top employers are offering more graduate jobs is a clear sign that the UK’s higher education sector continues to be an excellent option for people looking to secure a rewarding career.
The reforms we’re bringing forward in the Higher Education and Research Bill will ensure that our universities continues to deliver the jobs graduates expect and the skills employers need.
We are collecting views on the second stage of our National Funding Formula here.