School Funding … a priority… Hmm

The most important set of numbers for many working in schools at least came in the Education Secretary’s Statement yesterday on school funding. The Statement rounds off the long-running consultation on fair funding, outlines the transition arrangements to the new formula over the next two years, confirms the minimum per pupil funding level for both primary and secondary as well as additional needs, and throws in some additional money in the form of a £110,000 lump sum for every school and £26m for rural schools.

Responses have so far have been mixed. The new National Education Union complained that there was no new money and no long term guarantees while ASCL welcomed the commitment to minimum funding levels but feared there still wasn’t enough going into the pot overall. And, of course, it still leaves 16-19 provision exposed and uneasy.

Elsewhere, the biggest batch of numbers this week was to be found in the 2017 Education at a Glance publication, the OECD’s annual report on how education systems across 35 member countries are performing.

The TES and Schools Week as ever have useful summaries of the whole thing but key messages that stand out for the UK include that we (the UK) spend more on education than other member countries though it’s a different picture for higher education for which the report offers a cautious welcome to the current fee regime. Also we have high class sizes, falling teacher salaries and high teacher workloads along with low investment and numbers in vocational education, high numbers of graduates and apparently, “greater proportions of both men and women suffering from depression than other countries with available data.”

Top headlines this week

  • ‘Average teacher received ‘paltry’ 0.6% pay rise last year.’ (Monday)
  • ‘Teacher retention efforts not working.’ (Tuesday)
  • ‘Education’s big beasts to be grilled by Education Select Committee.’ (Wednesday)
  • ’Historic schools funding change confirmed.’ (Thursday)
  • ’Apprentices used as cheap, subsidized labour, survey suggests.’ (Friday)

Quotes of the week

  • “We are finally making the decisive and historic move towards fair funding” – the Education Secretary reminds MPs of the importance of the school funding changes
  • “These changes will free up teachers to educate and inspire young children while holding schools to account in a proportionate and effective way” – The Education Secretary spells out new plans for primary assessment
  • “I don’t think it would be helpful to look only at the financing side of the equation – we need to look more broadly at the range of products offered to students” – the Chancellor indicates that he’s looking at HE financing ahead of this year’s Autumn Budget
  • “Increasingly flexible employment is sold to us as a benefit … They call it the gig economy – and who doesn’t like going to a gig?” – Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn on the nature of gigs
  • “So let’s throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the harbor. And catch the trade winds in our sails” – Jean-Claude Junker casts off in his annual State of the Union speech to the European Commission
  •  “Our main focus this year is the curriculum which is especially important for people from disadvantaged backgrounds” – Chief inspector Amanda Spielman highlights the importance of Ofsted’s emerging curriculum review
  • “It is most certainly not untouchable, we have the learners’ interests at heart” – the Skills Minister defends government actions over Learndirect
  • “I was never allowed to call them ‘vocational’ diplomas because the ‘v-word’ was associated with low aspiration and blue overalls” – former Education Minister Lord Jim Knight reflects on the previous Labour government’s Diploma programme ahead of further work on T-Levels
  • “I’m expecting this to happen in the next ten years” – Sir Anthony Seldon spies automated teaching on the horizon as part of a new book on the subject next year
  • “Bring back National Service for our jobless youth – and send them abroad as a hurricane relief force” – Norman Tebbit kills two birds

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