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Education in the Media: Thursday 1 November 2018

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Funding, Ofsted, School spending, SEND

Teacher and class

Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at Amanda Spielman’s letter to the Public Accounts Committee, this week’s budget announcement, new research by the IFS, and the judicial review against Hackney Council.


Yesterday, Wednesday 31 October, the Chief Inspector of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, wrote a letter to the Public Accounts Committee outlining a number of points including school inspections and funding. . This was covered by the Times, the Independent, the Guardian, the Telegraph and the I.

One of the areas Ms Spielman referenced in the letter was the so called ‘off-rolling’ and exclusion of pupils by schools. We have been clear that exclusions should only be used as a last resort when tackling misbehaviour. We have also launched a review of exclusions led by Edward Timpson, in order to look at the patterns and the underlying causes.

Amanda Spielman also raised concerns that the national curriculum is too focused on testing . All schools are required to provide a broad and balanced curriculum. At GCSE level we have removed the incentives for multiple resits, giving pupils at least two years of full study before exams, and at A Level there is a new structure to remove the need for AS exams. This is all part of our ambition to make the curriculum less focused on testing.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Across the country there are now more good or outstanding schools and more pupils benefiting from the excellent education they provide than in 2010, rising from 66% to 86% in that time. This includes more than half a million pupils who were typically in previously underperforming schools that have been turned around after becoming sponsored academies.

The attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their more affluent peers has shrunk at various levels –14% in the early years, 10% at age seven and 10% at GCSE level – and on A level results day last week we saw record rates of disadvantaged 18 year olds getting into university.

We are also putting more money into our school system than ever before, and are investing £2.4bn a year specifically to help disadvantaged pupils alongside schemes like the Opportunity Areas programme which is taking action to improve opportunities for young people who need it most.

Budget Announcement

On Monday 29 October, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, announced the latest budget, which includes a boost in funding for schools. This has received coverage from the Independent, the Guardian, the Times, the I News and BBC News.

The Chancellor allocated an extra £400 million of capital funding for schools. This one-off payment will be made directly to schools, averaging £10,000 per primary school and £50,000 per secondary school.  This funding can be spent on equipment such as computers, whiteboards or building upgrades and comes in addition to the core schools budget.

On top of this boost for schools, the Chancellor announced funding for new mental health services, including children and young people’s crisis teams in every part of the country, as part of our initiative to promote and support mental health.

In social care funding, there will be £84 million over the next five years which will go to specifically expanding children’s social care programmes to 20 further councils with rising numbers of children in care.

For technical education, there will be £695 million to support apprenticeships. As part of this, smaller firms taking on apprentices will have the amount they contribute for training halved from 10% to 5%.

Further to this, there will be an additional £38 million so that the first post-16 providers to deliver T Levels from 2020 can invest in high quality equipment.

The Chancellor has also allocated £1.7 million for educational programmes in schools to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, ensuring that the next generation learns and understands the history of the holocaust.

You can read the full Budget 2018 document here.

IFS Report

Today, Thursday 1 November, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) released new research into disadvantaged pupils. This has been covered by the Guardian and BBC News.

The new research shows a lot of progress in narrowing the disadvantage gap between pupils from different socio-economic backgrounds. Participation in 16-18 education is now almost universal, and shows little sign of being socially graded. Higher education participation has also shown promising progress in this area, becoming less socially graded since 2012.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

This government’s mission is to create a country that works for everybody with equal opportunity for all regardless of their background. The IFS has stated that “reforms since 2010 will have increased total funding in favour of pupils from poorer backgrounds” – and following the introduction of the Pupil Premium in 2011 – worth £2.4 billion this year alone – the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has narrowed at primary and secondary level and we have seen record rates of 18 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds going to university.

These are important first steps but it is the only the beginning – I am determined that there are no limits on any child’s ambition or potential and have set out an ambition to tackle the gap in the early years before children start school that can hold young people back throughout their school life. We have also launched initiatives like Opportunity Areas and Opportunity North East to rally businesses, charities and education organisations to work with us to help raise aspirations for all.

Hackney SEND Budget

Today, Thursday 1 November, the Guardian published an article about a judicial review against Hackney Council regarding special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) funding.

We are currently monitoring the impact of our high needs national funding formula, and keeping the overall level of funding for high needs under review. The national high needs budget for children and young people with more complex SEND is £6 billion this year – the highest on record, up from £5 billion in 2013.

Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi said:

Our ambition for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is exactly the same for every other child – to achieve well in school and college, find employment and go on to live happy and fulfilled lives. We have introduced Education Health and Care plans, putting families at the heart of the process and providing support tailored to individual needs.

Local authorities and schools have statutory duties to support children and young people with SEND, and in 2018-19 Hackney will receive £42m in high needs funding, £1.1 million more than they planned to spend in 2017-18. Due to increasing costs though, we do recognise there are pressures on high needs budgets.

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