Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Spending review to hit education

As had been widely predicted, this year's Pre-Budget Report and Comprehensive Spending Review signaled a leaner future for education funding. ASCL has told ministers and civil servants that funding levels are unlikely be sufficient to address all the initiatives schools and colleges are required to implement this year.

Education spending will increase to just over 74 billion a year by 2011. Most of the money is not new, but was previously announced in March.

While the settlement is 2.8 per cent above inflation, it will effectively halve the growth rate education has seen since 1999.

John Dunford said: "Funding will be tight and increases in school and college budgets will not match new demands in some parts of the country.

"Education ministers will have to put a stop to the torrent of initiatives that we have had in recent years, so that schools can use their funding on the core business of teaching and learning."

ASCL has been making the point since the diplomas were announced that they will not succeed if they are not properly funded.

John said: "There are real concerns about the allocation of funds to meet the additional costs of the new diplomas. Starting a new curriculum is always costly in the first few years, until it is established, especially when the take-up is very patchy as it will inevitably be with the diplomas."

Along with the CSR, the government announced new public service targets for education which include raising the educational achievement of all children and young people and narrowing the gap in educational achievement between children from low income and disadvantaged backgrounds and their peers (see www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/pbr_csr/psa for details).

On this point John said: "While I accept the need to narrow the gap in attainment, schools already face an unacceptably large number of targets. School leaders want to know which targets are disappearing in order to make way for the new ones."

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