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Education in the Media: Friday 11 January 2019

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: School spending

Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at school finances as well as arts and music education.

School Finances

Today, Friday 11 January, the Education Policy Institute think-tank published a report on school revenue balances in England. This was covered on broadcast by the Today Programme and BBC Breakfast, whilst the story also ran in the Independent, the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Telegraph and the Mirror.

The report includes a number of findings, including the point that the proportion of maintained schools spending more than they have coming in has fallen considerably in the last year, particularly in primary and special schools.

The most recent published figures for England show 94% of academy trusts and 90% of local authority maintained schools reporting a cumulative surplus or breaking even. We trust schools to manage their own budgets and the vast majority are operating with cumulative surplus, with only a small percentage having a deficit.

Despite these figures, and the record funding going into schools, we do recognise the budgeting challenges that schools face, and the fact that we are asking them to do more. That is why we are supporting schools, head teachers and local authorities, including through the School Resource Management Advisers who work with schools to provide expert advice on using resources. On top of this we are rolling out a free Teacher Vacancy Service to help schools recruit effectively.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

The report itself shows 94% of academy trusts and almost 90% of local authority maintained schools are reporting a cumulative surplus or breaking even – and, 45% of maintained schools have even been able to increase the level of their cumulative surplus in 2017-18.

Whilst the core schools and high needs budget is rising from almost £41bn in 2017-18 to £43.5bn by 2019-20, we do recognise the budgeting challenges schools face. That is why the Education Secretary has set out his determination to work with the sector to help schools reduce the £10 billion they spend on non-staffing costs and ensure every pound is spent as effectively as possible to give children a great education.

School standards are still rising – there are 163,000 more six-year-olds now on track to be fluent readers than in 2012, a more rigorous  curriculum and qualifications, 1.9 million more children in good or outstanding schools – with 86% of schools now judged to this standard, compared to 68% in 2010 – and a shrinking attainment gap.

You can read the EPI's report in full here.

Music and the Arts

Today, Friday 11 January, the Times ran an op-ed by the Schools Standards Minister Nick Gibb, who wrote about his ambitions for music education in schools. In addition, the Guardian published an article based on a survey by the Fabian Society, about art education in schools.

The Minister wrote that he would like to see every child leave primary school able to read music and having had the opportunity to sing or play a musical instrument.

We are making sure that arts remains a core part of education for children, which is why it is the second most funded subject, behind only PE.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

We want all pupils to have the opportunity to study the arts, which is why music and art and design are compulsory in the National Curriculum up to the age of 14.

We are putting more money into arts education programmes than any subject other than PE – nearly half a billion pounds being used to fund a range of music and cultural programmes between 2016 and 2020.

Analysis showed that through our Music Hubs programme over 700,000 children learnt to play instruments in class together in 2016/17. To help support pupils further, all primary schools have access to a free resource, Classical 100, developed by ABRSM, Classic FM and Decca, which gives pupils access to 100 of the most influential pieces of music.

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