With new funding schemes for the Education Sector coming into place let’s look at current reports and the views and experiences of concerned parents and those in the know. What will the consequences be for your children?
An interesting article on BBC 2’s Victoria Derbyshire programme (27/02/17) focussed on a new report just out from the IFS (institute for Fiscal Studies) authored by Luke Sibieta. The report looked at education spending over the last 30 years and makes some worrying predictions. One of the most troubling, is that spending per pupil is set to fall by 6.5% by 2020. This would be the biggest drop in 30 years.
Jo Yurkey, mother of two primary age children and part of the Fair Funding campaign that recently handed in a 300,00 signature petition to Downing Street, commented that she had seen her children’s class sizes go up to over 30 pupils in a class and stated that class sizes are now the highest in a decade. She went on to say that the new Fair Funding Formula, where schools are allocated funding appropriate to their needs, is fine in principle, but that the funding pot itself is too small – primary education is facing its biggest cuts in 30 years.
Luke Sibieta, the report’s author says that schools are having to make more cuts than they have since the 1990’s. The amount of money being spent per pupil is falling and numbers of pupils are going up by 7%. His report also identified that there is no extra money being allocated for the cost of inflation, rising National Insurance contributions, a rise in the Living Wage, or rising pension contributions – all these costs mean more money not actually spent on schools.
Neil Carmichael, MP and Chair of the Education Select Committee, agreed that there is a real need to invest in education. He spoke about the shortage of skills in the economy, skills now having to be bought in from abroad – which is increasingly worrying with the unknown consequences of Brexit. Carmichael also referred to the ‘long tail of underachievement in our primary schools’ identified by Ofsted’s Michael Wilshaw in 2015. He states that there is a need, in the long term, to increase expenditure in education and that there are aspects of the new Formula Funding System that needs further testing.
It is true that pupil funding for Early Years education (covering 0-5 years) has risen in the last 30 years, and will have risen by 70% around 2020. In 2015 £2.3 billion was spent on Early Years. This may sound impressive, but when you take into account spending on the EY’s in 1990 was actually next to nothing – it explains the huge percentage rise. Many people are still of the opinion that this money is still not enough. The Early Years sector is still struggling in many areas and recent figures have shown more children failing developmentally before they start primary school, especially in poorer families. That number is set to increase by 2020, with settings hit by rising costs and under funding from the new 30-hour ‘free funding’ offer, and therefore unable to invest in qualified Early Years teachers.
With parents already being asked to contribute financially to make up for shortfalls in their school funds many are concerned that things are only going to get worse. Fair Funding for all Schools is a parent led organisation, they are concerned that the new Formula Funding may result in;
- Increased class sizes
- Cuts to teaching staff and teaching assistants
- Parents contributing to core running costs
- Four-day teaching weeks
- Cuts to extra-curricular activities and resources
So what can you do as a parent to find out more about how your area is to be funded and how can you get involved?
- Go to the schoolcuts website to search for data on your local school
- Sign the petition fair funding for all schools
- Write an e-mail to your local MP and explain why you don’t agree with these cuts