What Does the UK Spending Review Mean for Education?Posted by Jason on October 21, 2010
The headline from the recent spending review is that education as a whole appears to have got away lightly. Although the balance between schools with a slight rise in their budget fare better than the universities which face 40% cuts and colleges with 25% cuts. But of course, the devil is in the detail and the complete picture will no doubt emerge over coming weeks.
What might this mean for schools? As the UK teacher’s trade union NASUWT commented, trying to understand the new funding arrangements at this early stage is like trying to ‘knit fog’.
The problem is twofold. Firstly there are a number of different funding streams that schools draw upon both centrally and locally which will now be merged into core funding as a Dedicated Schools Grant and secondly, the schools budget is not evenly spread across all schools. This combined budget, which also includes the pupil premium, means that based on social and economic factors those schools with higher numbers of disadvantaged pupils might gain from these changes while those with fewer numbers may lose out. Those that lose out will be faced with reduced budgets which may place teaching posts at risk.
The increase to the schools budget is being paid for out of cuts being made elsewhere. As we know, capital spending has been cut with the cessation of the Building Schools for the Future and Primary Capital programmes. Additionally the harnessing technology grant was reduced in two £50m stages to support the free schools policy and the removal of the Education Maintenance Allowance frees up a further £500m. Funding for specialist schools looks to be in danger as the Coalition appears set to remove direct funding to 3,000 secondary schools with rumours that the money will be used to fund the ‘fairness premium’ or the free schools policy.
Further savings to fund the increase to the schools budget come with the closure of seven quangos, including the QCDA and Becta. The future of the nine other bodies remains uncertain, among them the TDA, NCSL and YPLA, as they are still under review. No doubt many of the functions that these organisations carry out will be transferred back to their department of origin but there will be gaps left which may never be filled, for example Becta’s work with special needs and assistive technologies. This will be further compounded by the reductions to local authority budgets which are already under considerable strain.
We are therefore at a very early stage in the review process so it remains to be seen, once the dust has settled, how the education landscape will emerge over the coming weeks and months as the cuts start to bite and the reforms are implemented.
Tell us your thoughts on the recent spending review. How might your school or local authority be affected?