City Lit Blog

The Education Committee report on school and college funding

Story added 19th Jul 2019

The Education Committee published the report from their inquiry into school and college funding. The report calls on the Government to fix the broken education funding system, commit to a multi-billion cash injection for schools and colleges and bring forward a strategic ten-year education funding plan.

The Committee's inquiry found that, as well as coping with growing pupil numbers and rising costs, schools were increasingly being asked to cover additional services – such as mental health, social issues and more complex special educational needs and disabilities provision – without adequate resources, putting the sector under significant strain over the past decade. The report shows that further education has been hardest hit, with post-16 funding per student falling by 16% in real terms over the past decade. MPs urge a £1 billion boost.

Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Education Committee, said: "Education is crucial to our nation's future. It is the driver of future prosperity and provides the ladder of opportunity to transform the life chances of millions of our young people. If it is right that the NHS can have a ten-year plan and a five-year funding settlement, then surely education, perhaps the most important public service, should also have a ten-year plan and a long-term funding settlement."

Angela Rayner MP, Labour's Shadow Education Secretary, said:"This report from a cross-party committee chaired by a Conservative former Education Minister is the latest evidence that Tory cuts have damaged our schools and colleges and failed a whole generation of children. Tory cuts have left schools begging parents for donations just to keep the lights on five days a week and pay for basic supplies like pens and paper, whilst Further Education colleges have seen their budgets cut in half. Only a Labour government will give our schools the resources they need, reversing Tory cuts and increasing per pupil funding in real terms as part of a National Education Service."

Phil Chamberlain, Executive Director External Engagement at City Lit, said: "Interesting to see the Education Committee report published today, which talks about underfunding of post-16 education alongside other important education funding issues arguing the case for bringing forward a strategy ten-year education funding plan. We hope this will be up the list of priorities for the Government come the next Spending Review and any new policy decisions taken by the next Prime Minister."

Key Conclusions and Recommendations:

  • There is simply not enough core funding, and the capital funding landscape is becoming increasingly concerning. The Department must make the strongest possible case to the Treasury for a multi-billion pound funding increase in the next spending review, and ensure this is aligned with the requirements for a ten-year plan.
  • The continued underfunding of post-16 education is no longer justifiable. These budget pressures are the result of political decisions that have had enormous impacts on young people’s educational opportunities and undermined attempts to tackle social justice. The Department must make the case to the Treasury for a post-16 core funding rate raise from £4,000 to at least £4,760 per student, rising in line with inflation. This is needed to ensure pupil services can be provided at minimum acceptable levels, and prevent institutions from having to cut back still further on the breadth of subjects offered.
  • Special educational needs and disability funding is completely inadequate. There is simply not enough money in the system to provide for the scale of demand. Local authorities are expected to face a funding shortfall in excess of £1 billion by 2021. Any funding uplift must include a thorough assessment of the cost implications of local authorities’ duty to maintain an Education, Health and Care Plan up to the age of 25.
  • A ten-year plan for education funding is essential. It would provide schools, colleges and the Department with much needed strategic direction and financial certainty. The short-termism and initiative-itis that characterises the Department’s current approach cannot afford to continue.