School and college funding inquiry launched

The Education Committee launches funding inquiry to inform DfE’s bid for funding for schools and colleges and to consider whether a longer-term vision needs to be taken of education funding in England

A new inquiry by the Education Committee seeks to examine whether a longer-term plan is needed for investment in education and what resources are required to ensure schools and colleges get the support they need.

The inquiry will also examine the effectiveness of targeted funding – such as pupil premium – and how the new national funding formula will be implemented.

Launching the inquiry, Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, chair of the committee, said: “Young people are in compulsory education for around 13 years, yet Government only plans investment in education every three or four years. We need to move to a situation where education funding is not driven primarily by Treasury processes but rather by a long-term strategic assessment of our national priorities for education and skills.

“Rising cost pressures faced by schools, sixth form and FE colleges have led to serious challenges in the provision of high-quality education which can be a key driver for social justice and productivity. The Spending Review provides the Government with an opportunity to help close the funding gap and it is vital this process is informed by the views of parents, teachers and pupils.

“Some areas of public expenditure are informed by an overall target, whether it’s 0.7% of gross national income on international aid or 2% of gross domestic product on defence. Other areas are vocal about their level of need, such as in the case made for greater expenditure on health services. I hope our inquiry will help give ordinary people a role in creating a ten-year vision for education investment.  The Prime Minister recently signalled a new approach to funding the NHS; I hope the Education Committee can help to make the case for a similar plan for expenditure on our schools and colleges.

“Education provides a vital ladder of opportunity for our young people. This inquiry will examine whether it is time to have a ten-year plan for our schools and colleges, and what resources are required to put this plan into action.”

The launch of the inquiry has been welcomed by education bodies.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT said: “This is an important move from the Education Select Committee. School and college funding is the issue that just won’t go away. There are too many parents, teachers, governors and school leaders pushing for more money for their children for the government to ignore these calls any longer. Hopefully, the extra focus from the select committee will open the door to the Treasury and we’ll see fresh investment.

“Last year the DfE found £1.3bn from within its own budget to direct to schools but that doesn’t even go halfway towards addressing the £2.8bn of real terms cuts that have happened since 2015. We’ve written to the chancellor Philip Hammond asking for an urgent meeting, and we will be pressing home the importance of additional funding for schools and colleges to Damian Hinds when he addresses our annual conference in Liverpool at the beginning of May.”

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Geoff Barton, general secretary of ASCL, said: “We welcome the Education Committee’s inquiry into the level of funding for schools and colleges which comes at a time of severe financial pressures caused by government underinvestment in education. The funding crisis is putting hard-won education standards at risk and damaging social mobility. Our young people deserve better.

“The comments made by the chair of the Education Committee are a breath of fresh air. We entirely agree that a longer-term plan is needed for investment in education and have long been calling for such an approach. It cannot come soon enough.”

Terms of reference – call for written submissions

The Education Committee invites written submissions by Wednesday 3o May, 2018, on the following issues:

  • What the Department for Education’s priorities should be for the next Spending Review period as they relate to schools and colleges
  • Whether the spending review cycle is the best mechanism for determining overall expenditure on schools and colleges, and what that level should be
  • The effectiveness of targeted funding such as the pupil premium, and its relationship to core education funding
  • The practical implementation of the national funding formula

Closing date for written submissions: Wednesday 3o May, 2018.

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