Today’s news review looks at the EPI report into school funding and the launch of our review into exclusion rates, alternative provision and improving educational outcomes for children in need.
Today, Friday 16 March, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) published a report suggesting an increase in schools with a budget deficit. This story was covered by the I, Guardian, Independent and BBC Online and was running on the Today Programme and BBC News.
We simply do not recognise the report’s claims. It paints an overly pessimistic figure of schools’ financial health.
The report does not account for the savings we know are possible based on variations in spending between similar schools – it implies schools have to use their reserves in order to fund additional spending. It also doesn’t mention the support that we have already provided to schools to help them get the best value from their resources.
It also makes little mention of the significant investment we are making in the schools system in support of the new, fairer National Funding Formula. By 2020 school funding will have risen to a record £43.5bn. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has confirmed that our additional investment means that across the country the overall schools budget will now be maintained in real terms per pupil through to 2019-20.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
We do not recognise these findings. The fact is, thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers, standards are rising in our schools. By 2020, core school funding will rise to a record £43.5 billion – the IFS has confirmed that by then per pupil funding will have increased more than 70% since 1990. Latest figures show schools hold surpluses of more than £4 billion and we are providing support to help them get the most out of every pound they spend.
Educational outcomes for children in need
Today, Friday 16 March, the department has launched a review – led by former education minister Edward Timpson – into the rate of exclusions and how and why they vary, focusing on those children who are more likely to be excluded.
We have also launched the £4 million Alternative Provision Innovation Fund to test and develop projects that support children in alternative provision back into mainstream or special schools and encouraging parent and carer involvement. In addition, a call for evidence will gather information on the best practice from school leaders, social workers and other professionals on how to improve educational outcomes for children in need.
Minister Zahawi was interviewed on Good Morning Britain, Sky News and the Victoria Derbyshire Show and the story was covered by the Independent, TES and Schools Week. Edward Timpson wrote an opinion piece for the Telegraph to discuss his review on exclusions.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:
It’s a mark of a strong society how we treat children who are most in need of our support. Every child, whatever their background and no matter what challenges they face, should have access to a world-class education that prepares them for life in the modern world.
Thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers, standards are rising and we are already encouraging schools to focus on the achievements of all pupils, not just the highest achievers.
Children only get one chance at their education and they deserve the best. But for too many children – and often those who are most vulnerable – there are inconsistencies when it comes to their experiences of school and too many parents are left worried and concerned.
That’s not good enough which is why we are going to improve our understanding of these important issues and tackle them head on.
Read more about our new action to improve outcomes for children with additional needs here.