State schools in England to benefit from Government cash injection

On 4 September, Chancellor Sajid Javid announced the government's spending plans – with billions of pounds earmarked for the UK education sector over the next three years.

State schools in England to benefit from Government cash injection
It may have been a year late, but Chancellor Sajid Javid's spending review has promised a "decade of renewal", with a focus on “the people’s priorities” after nine years of austerity. On 4 September, the chancellor revealed his plans to increase spending by 4.1% – or £13.8 billion – next year, with frontline services such as the NHS, police, defence and education departments, as well as Brexit, being prioritised.

A three-year commitment to education

While many of the departmental budgets have only been set for one year – rather than the usual three – due to Brexit concerns, Javid has announced a three-year budget for education that will see spending rise to £2.6 billion in 2020-21, £4.8 billion in 2021-22 and £7.1 billion in 2022-23. Also, there will be a minimum level of spending of £4,000 per pupil in primary schools and £5,000 in secondary schools – a rise of £200 per secondary pupil.For HR and global mobility professionals who are planning domestic relocations and inbound international assignments to the UK in the next three years, this commitment to investing in schools in England can only be seen as a positive move, giving them greater confidence in the future performance of State schools and a wider pool of prospective institutions to choose from.
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School performance has remained buoyant – but for how long?

According to the Institute For Government (IFG), until recently, schools in England did not face the same financial pressures as other public services. While education spending fell by around 4% in both primary and secondary schools between 2015/16 and 2018/19, school performance has generally held up. However, there are serious problems in recruiting and retaining enough teachers – particularly in secondary schools – which are only getting worse.In an analysis of the spending allocation, BBC education editor Branwen Jeffreys, commented, “School funding in England had become a political headache and vote loser for the government, with both headteachers and parents campaigning. Rising costs such as national insurance and teachers pensions, as well as running costs such as utility bills, have contributed to an 8% real terms reduction in money spent in schools since 2010.“The extra money promised for 5-to-16 year-olds' education will almost reverse that squeeze by 2023. But that leaves financial pressures in England in other areas such as early years, and despite some extra cash for colleges educating 16-19 year-olds, an historic legacy under many governments of relative underfunding of further education.”

Spending review breakdown: SEND, Early Years and teacher pensions

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), the increase in government funding is estimated to almost restore "real-terms per pupil funding to the level it was at in 2009/10". An extra £700 million will be used to support children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and £66 million for early-years provision, while a portion of the budget has been ring-fenced to increase teacher starting salaries to £30,000 by 2022/23 to ease recruitment and retention pressures.Paul Whiteman, general secretary of National Association of Head Teachers, said, "The announcement of £7.1 billion will go some way to restoring the real-terms cuts we’ve seen in education since 2010, but will not chalk it all off... An additional £66m for Early Years education is welcome, although we know that sector needs more, so that’s an area where we’ll have to keep pushing. The same is true for pupils with SEND and for students in FE and sixth form colleges."The government has made a significant stride in the right direction, and the money that’s been announced is good news, but we’re not there yet and we can see where some of the gaps still remain. Now we need to work with the government to make sure the money goes where it is most needed, and that we’ve got a long-term commitment to education funding, whatever the future holds."

Will the further education budget be enough to fill skills shortages?

As part of the spending review, £400 million will be used to support further and vocational education. While the increased budgets has been welcomed by the UK education sector, there are concerns about the level of funding for further education; particularly when research by the Confederation of British Industry and education, publishing and assessment service Pearson, has found that while more than three-quarters of UK businesses expect to increase the number of higher-skilled roles over the coming years, the majority of them fear there will be a shortage of suitably qualified candidates. The money will be used to support new technical and vocational qualifications, such as T-levels.

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