Sarah Teather on the education funding settlement

I commented yesterday on the good deal Chris Huhne has got for environmental spending (due to go up by a fifth in cash terms over the spending review period). The best settlement for any ministerial area however looks to have been secured for Sarah Teather’s early years education brief – assisted by Nick Clegg’s own repeated insistence on prioritising the area.

Here’s what Sarah Teather wrote yesterday to fellow MPs about the education settlement:

Today’s Comprehensive Spending Review involved some very difficult decisions that we had to take to deal with the black hole in public finances left to us by Labour. But it shows the character of this coalition government that, while making these difficult decisions, we have done everything we can to protect frontline services, help the most disadvantaged and accelerate social mobility.

Today we have started to deliver on our promise of giving every child a fair start. We will:

· Introduce a Pupil Premium for every disadvantaged child, wherever they live. As we promised in our manifesto, this will be £2.5 billion per year by the end of this Parliament. This Pupil Premium will be on top of existing funding for schools. Taken together with the Pupil Premium, this means that the budget for schools will rise, even taking into account inflation.

· Extend 15 hours per week free early education to all disadvantaged two year-olds, while keeping the free offer of 15 hours per week early education for every three and four year-old. We will be spending £300 million more on this by the end of the Parliament.

· Keep Sure Start a universal service, while focusing more effort on reaching those families who need it most. Funding for Sure Start services will be maintained in cash terms, including new investment in Sure Start Health Visitors.

Education is the engine of social mobility. That is why we, as Liberal Democrats, made manifesto commitments to extend childcare for all and provide extra funding for a Pupil Premium for every disadvantaged child.

Today’s Spending Review shows that Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander, and the Liberal Democrats across government are delivering on their promises to give every child a fair start.

The Department for Education’s news release on its settlement summarised it thus:

The schools budget will increase in real terms in each year of the Spending Review period. But economies in other areas mean that there will be a total real reduction in Departmental resource spending of 3% by 2014-15. Following on from the decision to halt Building Schools for the Future (BSF), capital spending will be reduced by 60% in real terms by 2014-15. The average annual capital budget over the period will be higher than the average annual capital budget in the 1997-98 to 2004-05 period

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20 Comments

  • Tony Dawson 21st Oct '10 - 9:37am

    I remain unconvinced of the value of the Pupil Premium. I do not believe that schools will use that money in ways which I am familiar will significantly benefit their most disadvantaged kids. Too many school governors in poorer areas with which I am familiar are wrapped around their Head Teacher’s little finger and have ended up making a priority of giving him/her an over-large salary for no obvious reason. Head teachers are capable of wasting significant sums with no obvious analysis of outcomes, let alone favourable outcomes. Might not the Pupil Premium end up being a bit of Lib Dem ‘willy waving’ for ‘the poor kids’? I have a suspicion that issues concerning family breakdown and other stresses which lead to poor parenting will be more relevant to the overall educational attainment of poorer kids. I am not yet convinced that SCHOOL EDUCATIONAL (as opposed to other) inputs prior to the age of five really make the difference.

  • Sarah.

    Could you give us the figures demonstrating how this premium is over and beyond the existing education budget?

    From the details released yesterday it now appears that the Pupil Premium will amount to £2.5 billion in total across the four years, rather than reaching a maximum of £2.5 billion in 2014-15.

    It also appears that school spending is only increasing because of the introduction of the Pupil Premium and the freeze in public sector pay. The increase in school funding over the Spending Review period amounts to a 0.1% increase in real terms in each of the four years, including the PP.

    We will have to wait for further details from Sarah before we can tell if funding for the Pupil Premium really comes from outside of the Education budget. It is worth remembering that there was already £3.85 billion allocated to deprivation related issues in the 2010-11 education budget.

    i would appreciate some clarity on this issue.

  • “involved some very difficult decisions that we had to take to deal with the black hole in public finances left to us by Labour.”

    Jeez, it’s like Stepford Wives redux every time a Tory or Lib Dem Minister opens their mouth.

  • What about social mobility after 18?

    University fees to at least double. Oxbridge to privatise. Mainly wealthy overseas students will benefit -then return home. With what benefit to uk?

    Social mobility is now dead. You helped kill it, Ms Teather.

    Your majority in Brent is rather skimpy btw.

    (A very bitter libdem voter who did not entrust you with my vote for the savage destruction you are helping to wreak on our democracy- shame on you)

  • Mike(The Labour one) 21st Oct '10 - 10:46am

    ‘Introduce a Pupil Premium for every disadvantaged child, wherever they live. As we promised in our manifesto, this will be £2.5 billion per year by the end of this Parliament. This Pupil Premium will be on top of existing funding for schools. Taken together with the Pupil Premium, this means that the budget for schools will rise, even taking into account inflation.’

    Spending Review: ‘there will be real terms increases in the 5 to 16s schools budget of 0.1 per cent in each year
    of the Spending Review period, including a £2.5 billion pupil premium for disadvantaged children.’

    It will only be on top of existing funding for schools after that existing funding has been cut, it’s a con.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 21st Oct '10 - 11:10am

    And still no comment on the spending review as a whole?

    This coverage really is starting to resemble the apocryphal headline in a provincial newspaper in 1912:
    “TITANIC SUNK – LOCAL MAN DROWNED.”

  • The large majority of the ‘pupil premium’ is coming from other areas of the education budget.

  • Pupil Premium is a con coming from cuts in the education budget including EMA, What can the Lib Dems tell us about what is happening to EMA in the so called ‘reforms’ of it. If it is funding the pupil premium then the Lib Dems ARE conning us. So Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander and Lib Dems across govt. think this fair, to take this money from older disadvantaged pupils and the vulnerable on welfare? It is ridiculous and unfair.

    http://blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/spending-review-the-price-of-the-pupil-premium/4555

    “A senior education department source told FactCheck £1.7bn of the £2.5bn comes from other education cuts – things like the educational maintenance allowance. Only £800m comes from elsewhere – the welfare budget.”

  • In June, David Cameron promised to “take money from outside the education budget to ensure that the pupil premium is well funded”. But now it looks as if the lion’s share of the money is recycled from within the education department’s budget. A senior education department source told FactCheck £1.7bn of the £2.5bn comes from other education cuts – things like the educational maintenance allowance. Only £800m comes from elsewhere – the welfare budget.

    The Spending Review document trumpets “real terms increases of 0.1 per cent in each year of the spending review for the 5 to 16′s school budget” – suggesting an above inflation increase.

    But those figures only add up if the pupil premium is included in the budget – not added to it as the Lib Dems originally dreamed. Figures supplied by the department to FactCheck show the budget will increase from £35.4bn this year, to £39bn in 2015. That means without the £2.5bn pupil premium, the schools budget would in fact shrink in real terms.

    Cathy Newman’s verdict
    So far from bringing “real social justice and opportunity to Britain’s children”, as Nick Clegg claimed before the election, the pupil premium seems to just be filling a hole in the budget.

  • The Pupil Premium was just about the only Lib Dem policy that got into the coalition agreement… and it’s turns out it’s just double-accounting, a con.

    What an absolute disgrace.

  • We need to be careful not to spin this too hard. In practice it looks like most schools will experience cuts. It is not yet clear what the impact will be of changes to the ways schools get their cash e.g. the abolition of specialist funding and the reshuffling of money to facilitate the pupil premium. We should remember that there are already several forms of funding which broadly follow types of pupil. We also need to think about the impact of funding free schools. Presumably this is not new money. Schools may have escaped more lightly than some areas but please let’s see how this develops before claiming it as some sort of victory.

  • Tragically, the pupil premium is indeed shuffling money around the total budget rather than additional cash. And we still have Gove pushing his potty Big Society so called ‘free schools’ draining money and resources.

    There are also worrying warnings that because of the real terms effects perhaps as many as 40,000 teachers will not escape the jobs cull as this article points out.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/oct/20/schools-money-budgets-staff-cuts

    However, I applaud Sarah Teather for at least fighting the battle to help poor and disadvataged children (if only Nick knew how to do so convincingly) even if that outcome is a hollow victory since the money is taken from other areas of the budget. It’s also going to be a tough sell to campaign on considering the tuition fees farce and the vicious attack on the poor and vulnerable by Osborne in the CSR that eclipse it utterly.

  • I wonder if Nick actually believes what he is saying on the Pupil Premium. Channel 4’s Factcheck puts it differently:

    “The Spending Review document trumpets “real terms increases of 0.1 per cent in each year of the spending review for the 5 to 16′s school budget” – suggesting an above inflation increase.

    But those figures only add up if the pupil premium is included in the budget – not added to it as the Lib Dems originally dreamed. Figures supplied by the department to FactCheck show the budget will increase from £35.4bn this year, to £39bn in 2015. That means without the £2.5bn pupil premium, the schools budget would in fact shrink in real terms.

    Cathy Newman’s verdict
    So far from bringing “real social justice and opportunity to Britain’s children”, as Nick Clegg claimed before the election, the pupil premium seems to just be filling a hole in the budget.”

  • Foregone Conclusion 21st Oct '10 - 12:41pm

    @AlexKN

    “So far from bringing “real social justice and opportunity to Britain’s children”, as Nick Clegg claimed before the election, the pupil premium seems to just be filling a hole in the budget.””

    Can’t we do both at the same time? I mean that quite seriously – might a redistribution of our existing schools budget have a positive effect on social mobility, even if there is no extra money? (That said, the idea of cutting EMA is pretty awful.)

    @ Helen

    Although I’m no fan of the Browne review, it’s false to say that the measures introduced would ‘privatise’ Oxbridge. Both Oxford and Cambridge, tiring of the existing fees structure, were tentatively beginning to look at privatisation as a way out, so arguably the Browne proposals would keep them within the public orbit (in fact, some of the changes will actually increase government power over them). And, of course, private students coming over here to study is a net benefit to the UK economy, although it’d be a pretty poor education system that didn’t provide British degrees for British students. As for ‘Social mobility is now dead’ – well, we’ll see, but for the moment I just think that’s ridiculous hyperbole.

  • Peter Chivall 21st Oct '10 - 4:52pm

    One way the Coalition could have provided more money to the Schools budget and contributed to the ‘bonfire of the quangos’ would have been to abolish OFSTED and replace it with a mixture of democratically accountable Local Authority inspectors supervised by a slimmed down national inspectorate – much like the old HMI structure.
    As far as I can see, OFSTED has made no positive contribution towards the education of a generation of English children – they have been merely a convenient (and very expensive) vehicle to de-professionalise and demoralise the teaching profession. Ministers like Gove (and Blunkett et al. before him) love OFSTED because it gives them indirect power (but no responsibility) over indiyidual schools.
    Under OFSTED,s baleful influence a generation of ‘school leaders’ have been appointed that owe nothing to their local communities or to the children in their care, but only to their next OFSTED report and their own careers.
    When I hear, as I have done twice recently, INFANT school children being harangued by their head by loudspeaker for 30 minutes in a lunchtime playground, as part of their ‘educational experience’, then I know the education system in England, and OFSTED’s influence over it, is deeply, deeply sick.

  • The pupil premium has to be the right policy. Presumably there will be improved outcomes in schools with high incidence of free school meals. If not the school must explain why not and record of individual children’s progress will provide evidence won’t it? But there is a problem. The savage cut in LA budgets will reduce the capacity of Local authority professionals to monitor and support schools to prevent faiure and provide reassurance beyond misleading league tables. But I presume miss Teather thinks that sustaining school budgets is the whole answer just as she caved in over theTory academies / free schools nonsense.

  • Peter Downes 21st Oct '10 - 10:14pm

    In spite of the reservations expressed, the pupil premium is to be welcomed insofar as it fulfils one of our pledges. The weakness is that the basic funding methodology for schools is so unsound that it is going to be very difficult for us to convince ourselves and others that this really is new money.

    Some years ago the government’s Education Funding Strategy Group nearly accepted a proposal from what was then the Secondary Heads Association that we should have a clear national formula based on an ‘activity and needs led analysis’ of schools and incorporating area cost differences. Had this been accepted at the time, we would now be in a position to see clearly to what extent the pupil premium is a genuine addition.

    The opportunity was missed because this new approach would have moved money away from Labour areas and towards Conservative areas. The government at that time was a year away from a General Election and could not take the risk. Consequently, they settled for a continuation of the existing system which fossilised the local spending decisions made in the mid 1980s (relatively generous allocations by local Labour councills and less in Tory councils).

    Our LD team in Westminster should continue to press for a fundamental overhaul of the national funding formula for schools. The Pupil Premium is welcome but a sticking plaster to mask the wounds that will be inflicted in residual LA schools by the conversion of outstanding schools to academies and the creation of free schools.

    We should do all we can at grassroots level to encourage schools to stay within the Local Authority network and we should expect the Local Authority to ensure that the Pupil Premium is indeed spent on those pupils for whom it is intended.

  • Patrick Smith 23rd Oct '10 - 2:50pm

    It is not the children`s fault,nor students,that there was a profligate Labour Government over 13 years,that handed over a massive `National Defict’ baton, to the `Coalition Government’, at the last General Election.

    The L/D Manifesto `Pupil Premium’ pledge is now implemented, as a key plank of the `Coalition Agreement’ is the flagship education policy and stands as the most progressive policy ,to date,introduced as a result of Liberal Democrats being in Government.

    It is fair and right that the less advantaged pupils are targeted for additional help by the extended 15 hours for the 2 year olds.

    The benefits to the less disadvanged are to be the main winners in the `Pupil Premium’.

    The `Pupil Premium” is the most progressive liberal policy and squarely within the design of Liberakl Democrats to fight and defeat child poverty of opportunity.

    The `Pupil Premium’ will ensure that the fact of only 17% of young people aged 16-19 years have poorer literacy and about 22% have poorer numeracy,than is needed for full participation in today`s society, will be tackled..

  • @ Patrick Smith
    The pupil premium is funded by education cuts the complete withdrawal of EMA and Welfare cuts. The coalition has robbed the vulnerable. EMA is crucial for poorer sixthformers. The Pupil Premium is not guaranteed to help poorer pupils, it will be up to the school how it is spent. Take money from Welfare ie money that feeds and clothes children and give it to the school? Take it from school improvements? This is not new money and Clegg has got nothing for his sell out, the vulnerable are funding it.

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