Schools see funding increase in spending review

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Following Chancellor George Osborne's Comprehensive Spending Review, schools will see a small increase in their classroom funding, despite an overall drop in the education budget.

Overall, the Department of Education is being asked for savings of just one per cent over the four years of the spending review. This includes reductions of a third in the back office administration, sharp cuts in building works, and the abolition of education quangos - the General Teaching Council for England, Becta, and the Qualifications and Development Agency. But universities in England are to face a 40% cut to their teaching budgets and colleges a 25% cut.

The Education Maintenance Allowance - handed to disadvantaged 16 to 19-year-olds to encourage them to continue their schooling – will also be scrapped in favour of more “targeted support”. This means that the new payment will be directed at the most needy among those who currently get the allowance.

The schools budget is being increased from £35billion to £39bn a year, and the Coalition has also pledged a spend £2.5bn on a “pupil premium” to encourage the best schools to admit pupils from poor backgrounds. In addition, the poorest children will also be given access to 15 hours worth of free childcare every week.

Although Labour’s £55bn Building Schools for the Future programme has been abolished, the Coalition has pledged to spend £15.8bn improving and refurbishing the school estate.

The teaching budget for England's universities will fall from £7.1bn to £4.2bn per year - a big reduction - but one which is lower than had been predicted by universities. The cuts will fall largely on the humanities because the government had already promised to protect science, technology and maths.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said: "The size of the deficit means we have had to make tough decisions.

"There will be many savings across the department but the coalition government is committed to improving education for all. That's why we're protecting the frontline, handing power to teachers and introducing a pupil premium for the poorest."

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the cuts would have a devastating impact on vital public services including education.

"The government may talk about protecting schools, but schools are not protected and nor are local authorities," she said.

"Attacks are already being made on additional education funding outside of the core schools budget, with vital front line services to schools already under threat.

"Teachers are faced with a pay freeze and cuts to pensions which mean they have to work longer for less."

Main Points for the Department for Education:

  • Real terms increases of 0.1 per cent in each year of the Spending Review for the 5 to 16s school budget, including a £2.5 billion pupil premium. Underlying per pupil funding will be maintained in cash terms;
  • Extending 15 hours a week of early years education and care to all disadvantaged two year olds from 2012-13, and maintaining the universal entitlement to 15 hours for all three and four year olds implemented by the Coalition Government;
  • Sure Start services will be maintained in cash terms, including new investment in Sure Start health visitors, and Sure Start will be refocused on its original purpose of improving the life chances of disadvantaged children;
  • £15.8 billion of capital funding over the Spending Review period. The Government will rebuild or refurbish over 600 schools from the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) and Academies programme. The decision to end BSF will allow new capital to be focused on meeting demographic pressures and addressing maintenance needs; and
  • Overall resource savings in DfE’s non-schools budget of 12 per cent in real terms by 2014-15, contributing to overall DfE savings of 3 per cent in real terms. This will be achieved by cutting administration and back offce costs, reducing 16 to 19s unit costs, focusing the support currently provided by Education Maintenance Allowances (EMAs) on the most disadvantaged children in the context of raising the participation age to 18, and rationalising and ending centrally directed programmes for children, young people and families.