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Government attempts to ease funding pain for schools and academies to cope with the pandemic

27 Aug

Over the next three years, schools and academies in England will receive an extra £14.4 billion.  In 2022/23 funding will rise by £7.1 billion as compared to 2019/20.  However, once inflation is factored in, this increase will amount to £4.3 billion.  Full Fact, an independent charity, calculated that school and academy funding will be £135 million a week higher by 2022/23.  It works out to £82.7 million a week, when one adds inflation.

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Government give the Pupil Premium Grant an uplift

13 Apr

From 1 April 2020, the Department for Education increased the size of the Pupil Premium Grant (PPG), a grant for the most financially disadvantaged children, i.e. those who have in the last six years been entitled to free school meals (FSM) and/or continue to be entitled.

The PPG rate increased by £25 for every entitled primary pupil – from £1,320 to £1,345 – and £20 for each secondary pupil – from £935 to £955.

The Pupil Premium Plus, which is allocated for every pupil who has left local authority care through adoption, a special guardianship order or child arrangements order (i.e. in care) will also rise by £45 – from £2,300 to £2,345.   For a child who has one or both parents serving in the army, navy or air force, the “Service Premium” will rise from £300 to £310 annually.

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Campaign for better education funding gathering momentum

18 Apr

Over the spring term 2019, barring Brexit and the NHS, everything – including education – took a back seat in government business.   However, several bodies used strenuous efforts to get government to keep education in focus – especially the funding of it.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) calculated that total school/academy spending per pupil fell by 8% between 2009/10 to 2017/18.   This included a 55% cut in the allocation made to local authorities to help them discharge their educational responsibilities and another 20% cut to sixth-form funding.  Funding per pupil to primary and secondary schools/academies fell by 4% since 2015.

The six school/academy-based unions claimed that schools and academies face a shortfall of £5.4 billion despite the extra funding that the Chancellor made available for an increase in teachers’ pay and (for the first time) a pupil premium grant for young people from the ages of 16 to 19.

“School budgets are at absolute breaking point,” warned the general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) Paul Whiteman. “School leaders have made all the obvious savings. Now, class sizes are rising and the range of subjects schools can offer is shrinking as they desperately try to balance the books.”

The general secretary of the Association of Schools and College Leaders (ASCL), Geoff Barton, added: “Schools across the country have had to make severe cuts and there are more on the way as reserves are drained and deficits increase.

“The reality of budget cuts is that schools have to operate with reduced staffing and this impacts on educational provision, such as less additional support for children and fewer curriculum choices. Schools are in the invidious position of having to decide on the least-worst option of where to make cuts or they will become insolvent.”

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Squeeze on educational finance continues

4 Jan

In biblical times, seven years of plenty were followed by seven years of famine.  However, in Britain’s educational scene, the periods of time have been that much longer.   In 1997 when Labour was elected with thunderous applause, Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, pledged that his three priorities for the foreseeable future was to be Education, Education, Education.

However, the international financial crash in 2008, 11 years later, saw the start of a period of financial famine that has continued ever since – 11 years on.  Schools and colleges continue to experience the after-shocks, following the movement of the educational tectonic plates.  There are no signs that there will be much let-up.

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Main-scale teachers to receive a 3.5% increase in salaries but funding shortages deepens gloom

17 Aug

Shortly after the schools and academies closed for the summer term 2018, the government announced on 24 July 2018 – the last day of Parliament – the pay rises for teachers.

The awards were as follows.

  • 5% uplift to the minimum and maximum of the main pay range (MPR), which means that the salary of a teacher could rise from £1,184 to £1,366.
  • 2% uplift to the minimum and maximum of the upper pay range (UPR)
  • 5% uplift to the minimum and maximum of the leadership pay range

Academies do not have to comply with the Pay and Conditions Regulations and grant the pay increases, but schools must.    Schools have flexibility about pay rises on the points in between.  However, the teacher unions have warned that those that fail to pass on the full pay rise to teachers will face an ‘industrial relations disaster’.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, told The Times Educational Supplement: “We have already heard from members on the last day of term [when the pay award was announced] whose school leaders have said, ‘Well, we can’t afford to pay.’ We expect the award to be paid in full to all members.”   She added that the NEU would be “monitoring that situation very closely”.  This is unsurprising, especially in the light of the DfE data that shows the percentage of academy trusts in deficit increased to 6.1% in 2016-17, a 0.6% rise on the previous year.

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Academy Trust Chiefs’ salaries continue to soar

17 Aug

I        Schools Week throws light on runaway salaries

It’s unsurprising that both, the producers and consumers, of educational policy and practice in the United Kingdom, especially in England are transfixed by the exorbitant salaries many Chief Education Officers of Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) are drawing, given that the country’s schools and academies are going through financial straits.   In March 2018, Schools Week published an article based on an analysis that the magazine carried out of the MATs where each had at least 20 academies in them.  The results make compelling reading.

There were huge variations between the salaries of men and the per pupil funding of each MAT.   The headline information was as follows.

  • The highest paid CEO was Sir Dan Moynihan of the Harris Academy Trust at £440,000 annually – £10,000 per academy.
  • The CEO who secured the highest pay rise was John Murphy of the Oasis Community Learning Trust who went from £180,000 to £205,000 – £4,183 per academy – a 14% rise.
  • The lowest paid was John Mannix at Plymouth Cast Trust at £55,000 annually at £1,527 per academy.
  • The lowest paid per academy was John Coles of United Learning at £160,000 annually and £3,018 per academy.

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Minding the Gender Pay Gap

20 Apr

According to Helen Ward of The Times Educational Supplement (TES), “The gender pay gap data returns are shaping up to create some of the most explosive spreadsheets the education sector has seen for years. Unions are even warning that the revelations could upend the female-friendly face of teaching, with some schools harbouring pay gaps way above the national average.”

By 31 March 2018, all public bodies (including schools, academies and trusts each of which has over 250 employees) had to submit to the government data on the mean pay gap, the median pay gap, the distribution of men and women across the pay scale, and the differences in the number and size of bonus payments.     For the private sector (including private schools), the data was submitted by 5 April 2018.

It is likely that this will be the subject of another league table.  However, the legislation permits local authorities to exclude data on their schools’ employees. Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) with over 250 employees, however, will be in a bind to engage in yet more bureaucracy.   It was Harriet Harman, during the “reign” of Gordon Brown, who introduced the legislation which was supported by Prime Minister Theresa May.   The gender pay gap data is opening our eyes to an egregious aspect of inequality. To understand the reasons for this, there may be merit in giving our researchers time and space to study and analyse the figures.

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Justine Greening gives education a financial uplift

18 Aug

I        Introduction

On 17 July 2017, the Education Secretary, Justine Greening, pledged an extra £1.3 billion to schools and academies over the next two financial years in an announcement in parliament.  The aim is to provide a per-pupil increase of at least 0.5% for every school/academy in 2018/19 and 2019/20.

While this is welcome, the reality is that instead of a significant cut in the budget, it will be a real-term freeze from now to 31 March 2020.  Over a four-year period up to that point, schools/academies will face a 4.6% cut in their finances, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS). Education spending in the UK is expected to shrink from 4.4% of the gross domestic product to 3.8%. Today, the government spends 18% more on state pensions than on education.   Unsurprisingly, the teacher unions are calling for an extra £2 billion a year.

According to its manifesto in the run-up to the 8 June 2017 election, the Conservatives promised to raise the schools’ budget by £4 billion by 2022 to ensure that no school lost out under the National Funding Formula (NFF) which is to be introduced in the next financial year.   The IFS is of the view that Ms Greening’s promise is more generous than plans in her party’s manifesto and matches those of the Liberal Democrats.

While it will be up to Local Educational Authorities (LEAs) to act as post men and women when distributing the budgets to schools following the government allocation, Ms Greening is introducing a minimum level of per-pupil spending in 2019-20 set at £4,800 for every secondary school/academy.  (The minimum funding level per pupil for primary schools has yet to be announced at the time of writing.)   While youngsters in Berkshire will benefit from rise in the current per-pupil secondary funding of £3,991, those in Tower Hamlets where the per-pupil funding is £6,906 will have to endure the reduced pain of lesser financial cuts than expected.

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Trusts need to do more to curb the salaries of MAT CEOs

18 Apr

On 15 December 2016, the government launched the second-stage consultation on a National Funding Formula – the same day on which the National Audit Office warned that schools in England were facing a cut of 8% per pupil in real terms by 2019/20 which translates into £3 billion.

The proposed formula – for which consultations have now closed – will result in over 9,000 schools/academies losing out.  Money will disappear from London and other urban areas and moving to schools/academies – mainly in the shire counties – which currently receive less.  However, 11,000 (circa) schools/academies will gain, albeit they will see much lower increases than they had been made to believe because at the 9,000+ schools/academies the reductions will be phased in.

Education has enjoyed more than seven years of plenty with those in the profession drinking deeply from the financial well of generous governments.   Schools/academies that have been spendthrifts will suffer. Those who have been over-careful had been severely berated by their local authorities and the government for not giving their (current) pupils their just financial desserts.   Those that had been judicious and saved enough for a rainy day, will postpone suffering for a few years.

In the long-term, most schools/academies will have to provide more with less simply to survive, if not flourish.

It is, therefore, not with a little surprise and angst that I read the piece written by The Secret CEO (in The Times Educational Supplement of 31 March 2017).  The poor guy (his silhouette at the end of the article suggests that it is a “he”), who leads a multi-academy trust “somewhere in England” is “fed up” (the unfortunate devil) with reading “article after article about the ‘shocking’ salaries CEOs of MATs receive”.  He spends the entire article criticising critics for criticising the Chief Education Officers of Multi-Academy Trusts over the salaries they receive.

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The National Funding Formula – Assessing the Impact of Proposals

18 Apr

I        Introduction

School governors across the country have informed the National Governors’ Association (NGA) in no uncertain terms that funding is the biggest issue they are currently facing and the biggest issue they are likely to face in the near future.   It is true that there will be over 10,000 winners (54%) among schools, in terms of increased funding balanced off by 9,000+ (46%) losers.  However, by 2020, all schools (‘academies’ is used interchangeably for “schools” in the rest of this article) will find they are facing funding reductions by 2020.   The Education Policy Institute (EPI) – a think tank – said in one of its recent reports – The Implications of the National Funding Formula for Schools – that any cash increases awarded to schools via the National Funding Formula (NFF) will be cancelled by cost pressures.

According to the EPI, the redistribution of the basic per pupil sums, the use of wider area-based measures of deprivation and the increased amounts of funding for pupils with low prior attainment will mean that money will move from schools with the most disadvantaged pupils to those with pupils who come from “just about managing” (JAM) families.

Drilling down, the EPI made the following discoveries – based on the proposed NFF.

(1)        Primary schools with fewer than 30% of pupils on free school meals (FSM) are expected to gain around 1% and secondaries 0.9% on average.  The total sum will be £275 million.

(2)        Disadvantaged primary schools (i.e. those with over 30% of FSM pupils) are expected to gain around 0.4% while disadvantaged secondary schools set to lose around 0.3%.  This will amount to a net increase of around £5.6 million for the most disadvantaged primary and secondary schools.  The reality is that many will see reductions to their budgets.

(3)        The most disadvantaged primary and secondary schools in London are expected to lose around £16.1 million by 2019/20.

(4)        Funding distribution based on area deprivation – commonly known as Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI) – means that pupils living in the least deprived areas will experience the highest relative gains.

(5)        The additional funding for low prior attainment will mean that the lowest-performing schools in the country are set to gain £78.5 million more than the top-performing schools.  This will have a painful effect especially in London, where the net loss to the highest performing primary schools will be around £16.6 million.

(6)        Small primary schools are due to experience an average increase of 3.5% – i.e. £22.7 million overall.  Small secondary schools, on the other hand, are unlikely to see any changes in their budgets.

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