Education in the budget

Never mind what the Chancellor said, pasted below is what the Treasury are really saying about education in the budget.

Here are my thoughts:

How will the 10% of schools that could gain under the National Funding Formula, but won’t receive the full amount, be identified?

Where is the funding for the extra pupils to come from? Some 700,000 extra pupils at £4,000 would generate a need for 32.8 billion extra funding by early in the next parliament. There isn’t anything about this in the budget.

This sort of basic need funding makes the extra money from the sugar tax look less than generous, even if it is a job creation scheme funded by the drinks industry for art, PE and drama teachers. I also note that while the figure for primary schools is clear; an extra £160 million per year, the figure for secondary of £285 million is only expressed as ‘up to’ – so no guarantee there.

If all 1,600 schools take up the £10 million for breakfast clubs they will receive £32.89 per day based upon a 190 day school-year. Helpful, but not a huge amount.

What happens as the industry cuts out sugar and reduces the amount the levy will raise isn’t, of course, clear.

Interestingly, there was no comment on the costs associated with the big gamble to make all schools academies. This isn’t a cost free exercise, as one of my earlier posts has shown.

The 2016 budget

Education

1.89 This Budget accelerates the government’s schools reforms and takes steps to create a gold standard education throughout England. The government will:

  • drive forward the radical devolution of power to school leaders, expecting all schools to become academies by 2020, or to have an academy order in place to convert by 2022. The academies programme is transforming education for thousands of pupils, helping to turn around struggling schools while offering our best schools the freedom to excel even further
  • accelerate the move to fairer funding for schools. The arbitrary and unfair system for allocating school funding will be replaced by the first National Funding Formula for schools from 2017-18. Subject to consultation, the government’s aim is for 90% of schools who gain additional funding to receive the full amount they are due by 2020. To enable this the government will provide around £500 million of additional core funding to schools over the course of this Spending Review, on top of the commitment to maintain per pupil funding in cash terms. The government will retain a minimum funding guarantee
  • ask Professor Sir Adrian Smith to review the case for how to improve the study of maths from 16 to 18, to ensure the future workforce is skilled and competitive, including looking at the case and feasibility for more or all students continuing to study maths to 18, in the longer-term. The review will report during 2016
  • invest £20 million a year of new funding in a Northern Powerhouse Schools Strategy. This new funding will ensure rapid action is taken to tackle the unacceptable divides that have seen educational progress in some parts of the North lag behind the rest of the country. In support of this, Sir Nick Weller will lead a report into transforming education across the Northern Powerhouse

Soft drinks industry levy to pay for school sport

1.90 Childhood obesity is a national problem.

The UK currently has one of the highest overall obesity rates amongst developed countries In England 1 in 10 children are obese when they start primary school, and this rises to 2 in 10 by the time they leave.

1.91 The evidence shows that 80% of children who are obese between the ages of 10 and 14 will go on to become obese adults, and this has widespread costs to society, including through lost productivity and the direct costs of treating obesity-related illness. The estimated cost to the UK economy today from obesity is approximately £27 billion, with the NHS currently spending over £5 billion on obesity-related costs.

1.92 Sugar consumption is a major factor in childhood obesity, and sugar-sweetened soft drinks are now the single biggest source of dietary sugar for children and teenagers. A single 330ml can of cola can contain more than a child’s daily recommended intake of added sugar. Public health experts have identified sugar-sweetened soft drinks of this kind as a major factor in the prevalence of childhood obesity.

1.93 Budget 2016 announces a new soft drinks industry levy targeted at producers and importers of soft drinks that contain added sugar. The levy will be designed to encourage companies to reformulate by reducing the amount of added sugar in the drinks they sell, moving consumers towards lower sugar alternatives, and reducing portion sizes.

1.94 Under this levy, if producers change their behaviour, they will pay less tax. The levy is expected to raise £520 million in the first year. The OBR expect that this number will fall over time as the total consumption of soft drinks in scope of the levy drops, in part as a result of producers changing their behaviour and helping consumers to make healthier choices.

1.95 In England, revenue from the soft drinks industry levy over the scorecard period will be used to:

  • double the primary school PE and sport premium from £160 million per year to £320 million per year from September 2017 to help schools support healthier, more active lifestyles. This funding will enable primary schools to make further improvements to the quality and breadth of PE and sport they offer, such as by introducing new activities and after school clubs and making greater use of coaches
  • provide up to £285 million a year to give 25% of secondary schools increased opportunity to extend their school day to offer a wider range of activities for pupils, including more sport
  • provide £10 million funding a year to expand breakfast clubs in up to 1,600 schools starting from September 2017, to ensure more children have a nutritious breakfast as a healthy start to their school day

There are also some regional developments associated with the northern Powerhouse developments.

Finally, Gordon Brown meddled in education as Chancellor; one result was the 2002 staffing crisis after schools were handed cash, but the extra teachers they tried to recruit with the money hadn’t been trained. Will this Chancellor fare better with his announcements on academies and will Tory backbenchers go along with making their local primary schools all academies?

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5 thoughts on “Education in the budget

  1. “Will Tory backbenchers go along with making their local primary schools all academies?”

    We’ll have some idea of that after the upcoming local election results. Primary schools are a particularly sensitive local issue, aren’t they?

  2. As most pupils go to their local primary school or nearest faith primary school this is an important issue for many parents. If the Treasury are confident enough to state that only up to 90% of winners on the new funding formula will receive full payment then they need to share during the consultation they types of schools in the 10% that won’t be paid in full. After making a statement like that in the budget papers it would surely risk the consultation being open to legal challenge if they didn’t identify schools that wouldn’t fully benefit.

    could they be relatively expensive rural primary schools. The extra transport costs of either closing such schools or making them financially unviable would fall on council tax payers not the government.

    • …and fall on council tax payers even when they will no longer have any local say in their new academy schools. Taxation without representation effectively.

      Although the US is different with its school boards etc, recent events there suggest removing local oversight and say from those who foot much of the bill, and replacing it with more distant control, encounters stiff opposition, which in turn alerts others.

      • That may be why there are still many small school districts in rural America, but large unified School Districts covering each of the main cities. Will rural England be happy to see its schools run from an HQ many miles away?

        John

  3. Thanks for this blog. The sugar tax is a double deceit – if the purpose was really to reduce sugar then just legislate for a maximum sugar content. The companies involved will almost certainly pass on the cost to the consumer so the real headline should be, “drinkers of soft drink to pay for more sport in schools”, this will NOT be something ‘funded by the soft drinks industry’ but funded by the consumer. This would be a more honest headline and it might be one that people would agree with. As ever is is the level of disengenity that sticks in the craw.

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