Grammar schools: Budget to include funds for new free schools

Extra money for new schools in England, including free and grammar schools, will be announced by the chancellor in his Budget on Wednesday

CREDIT: This story was first seen on BBC News

Philip Hammond will confirm a one-off payment of £320m for 140 new free schools on top of the 500 already pledged to be created by 2020, BBC News reports.

He will also spend £216m to rebuild and refurbish existing schools.

However, the money cannot be used to address what headteachers say is a £3bn spending shortfall in schools.

The clamour over budgetary pressures has built recently, with groups of heads lobbying MPs and the education secretary for assistance.

Headteachers have been complaining of an unfunded pay rise, extra national insurance payments and a freeze in the funding level per pupil.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies warned that schools faced a 6.5% drop in spending per pupil between 2015-16 and 2019-20 because of rising costs.

However, ministers insist schools funding is at its highest level on record. Mr Hammond said the core schools budget stood at more than £40bn this year.

“These announcements take the next steps in giving parents greater choice in finding a good school for their child, whatever their background,” he said.

Prime Minister Theresa May said a good school place remained out of reach for too many children.

“Over the last six years, we have overseen a revolution in our schools system and we have raised standards and opportunity, but there is much more to do,” she said.

She has promised to set out the next stage of the government’s schools programme in the coming months, with a schools white paper to be published “in the coming weeks”.

Writing in the Telegraph, Mrs May said the government would enable new selective free schools to be set up ‘so that the most academically gifted children get the specialist support to fulfil their potential, regardless of their family income or background’.

The £320m investment is earmarked for the free school programme but could also be used to fund new grammar schools.

You might also like...  EdExec LIVE: The final countdown

All new schools have to be free schools – set up by an organisation and funded by central government, rather than the local authority.

The government has been looking at lifting the ban on opening new selective state grammar schools.

General secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Dr Mary Bousted said teachers and heads in the thousands of existing state schools, facing real-terms cuts, would be dismayed to see the chancellor throwing more money at free schools and grammars.

“These spending pledges are totally insufficient to tackle the schools funding crisis the government is inflicting on schools by forcing them to make over £3bn of savings by 2020,” she said.

“Not only will the funding be misdirected, but the National Audit Office found that it costs far more to create a place in a free school than it does in a mainstream school.”

Mr Hammond will also pledge to ensure children from very poor backgrounds are given an entitlement to have paid travel to selective schools.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or connect with us on LinkedIn!