Socialist in Surrey

swimming in a sea of blue

School Cuts

dude 3Why is my school losing a teacher when that will put class sizes over 30?

In 2015 a majority Conservative government were elected on the following education manifesto:

  • Lift the cap on university places.
  • Freeze the amount of government spending per school pupil.
  • Turn every failing and “coasting” secondary school into an academy and create free schools for parents who want them.
  • Make children resit SATs upon arrival at secondary school if they have not reached the required standards.
  • Require secondary school pupils to take GCSEs in English, maths, science, a language and history or geography, with Ofsted unable to award its highest ratings to schools that refuse to teach these core subjects.
  • Introduce a national postgraduate loan system for taught masters and PhD

David Cameron gave the following assurance;

“So I can tell you, with a Conservative government, the amount of money following your child into the school will not be cut. In Treasury speak, flat cash per pupil.

“And as the number of pupils in our schools is going up, that means the amount of money going into our schools will do so too.”

He accepted that this would involve a real-terms cut to school budgets as increases would not rise with inflation.  Due to the fall in the pound inflation currently stands at 2.7%

Cameron said that although funding per pupil would not go up by inflation, schools had demonstrated that they could “be more efficient, more effective and they can make their budgets work”.

Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said the Tory decision represented quite a watering down from the coalition’s commitments in the 2010-15 parliament. The precise scale of the cut will depend on inflation across the parliament to 2020.


School spending has effectively been frozen since the coalition government in 2011, following a substantial rise in spending since 2000 under the previous Labour administration.  The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS -2016) estimate the current proposal will deliver a 7% to 8% cut in real terms.

  • Over the 2000s, the growth in primary and secondary school spending per pupil significantly accelerated to around 5% per year in real terms.

  • This growth came to an end in 2011–12, with average school spending per pupil largely frozen in real terms between 2011–12 and 2015–16.

Over the current parliament, the government has committed to freezing school spending per pupil in cash terms. Given current inflation expectations, this is expected to result in a real-terms cut in school spending per pupil of at least 7% (or about 8% if we account for changes in the costs likely to be faced by schools). This would be the largest real-terms fall over any period since at least the late 1970s. However, due to the substantial growth in the 2000s, real school spending per pupil in 2019–20 would still be more than 50% higher than in 2000–01.

These cuts have been part of the austerity agenda which in theory would pay down the deficit and restore the economy following the 2008 crash.  A reorganisation of the funding formula will result in overall spending on schools falling until 2020.  The idea is to make the funding system fairer by taking money from some schools and giving it to others.  But as the size of the overall cake is smaller the most any school can hope for is a funding freeze.

school funding graph

Such a reform would always produce relative winners and losers. With overall funding so tight it will also result in absolute losers. Transitional arrangements mean that no school will see a cash-terms fall in funding per pupil of more than 3% between 2017–18 and 2019–20, and no school can receive a gain of more than 5.6%. However, combined with real-terms cuts to overall school spending, this means that schools facing the biggest losses will see a real-terms fall in funding per pupil of close to 10% between 2015-16 and 2019-20. Even the biggest winners will get only a real-terms freeze over the same time frame.

If your child’s school is among the ‘losers’ then it could result in cuts to staff to balance the books.  It will probably not be of much comfort to you to know that a school in another part of the country has received extra funding instead. 

The NUT and other teaching unions have produced an app which shows the proposed cut to your local school.  Click on the link below – type in your postcode then hover over the red £ sign to find out the scale of the cut.

NUT School Cuts App


Class size in Surrey:

In 2016 Key Stage 2 class size averaged 28.2  with 8,213 children taught in classes over 31.  This is a steady rise up from 2010 with class average at 27.2 and 7,027 children taught in classes over 31.   Given the freeze or real time cut of up to 10% in the years to 2020 there is every possibility class size will continue to rise.  The reallocation of funds under the new formula tests the validity of Cameron’s pre-election claim; “So I can tell you, with a Conservative government, the amount of money following your child into the school will not be cut.  It may look like a cut and feel like a cut but it has been called ‘a fairer system’.  The result will be that school spending per pupil in 2020 will be at the same level as it was in 2010 removing any benefit achieved under the coalition.

Cuts to capital spending:

When the coalition took power in 2010 the previous Labour government were mid-way through an ambitious £55bn school building plan ‘Building schools for the future’.  

Originally all of England’s 3,500 schools were to be revamped by 2023. The plan was to replace out-dated buildings with facilities that suit modern education.

Only those schemes which had reached financial close were allowed to continue, another 1,100 schools who had signed up to the scheme and were part-way through had their funding stopped.  This scheme was intended to both revamp poor infrastructure and provide more places in areas of need. The school population rises by approximately 100,000 each year and in 2016 rose by 121,000.   Michael Gove later accepted that scrapping the scheme at a cost of £160 million had been a mistake.

A survey conducted by the Local Government Association (LGA) reveals 67 councils in England spent more than £161.4m on paperwork and preparation for new buildings that have now been axed.

In 2011 a group of councils won a court ruling on the issue but the decision to scrap the scheme was not overturned.

Mr Justice Holman said Gove’s actions over the scrapping of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) initiative last year had been “so unfair as to amount to an abuse of power”.

Under the £55bn scheme introduced by Labour, every secondary school in England was to be either rebuilt or refurbished. More than 700 schools’ building projects were cancelled when the scheme was scrapped in July.

Justice Holman told the high court in London that the education secretary had acted unlawfully in failing to consult local authorities over the decision and had broken the law by failing to give “due regard” to equality legislation.

Unable to expand to meet demand many primary and secondary schools in Surrey are heavily oversubscribed.   In 2015 Hinchley Wood Primary School received 368 applications for 60 places, while Heathside secondary school received 724 for 210 places. More figures can be seen here: getsurrey./elmbridge-primary-secondary-school-applications

The Local Authority have been hit by austerity cuts since 2010 and in 2014 David Hodge leader of the council outlined the spending shortage with regard to school places.

In one of the starkest warnings yet about Surrey’s biggest ever schools places crisis, Cllr Hodge said the council was “well short” of meeting the £84 million it needed to provide enough school places in 2015.  The council leader announced 3,000 extra school places will be needed next September, at a cost of £84 million. But with only £30 million being provided by the Government, the council faces a £54 million gap in funding.

The Academy Programme:

The Academies Bill 2010 has been the conservative flagship education programme.  Initially, schools were invited to apply to become ‘Academy’ schools which were independent of local authority control and funded directly by central government.  The bill also encouraged the building of new Academies and Free Schools.  These schools did not have to be built in areas of greatest need for school places and central government, not local government controlled the building plans.  Schools rated outstanding by Ofsted were encouraged to convert to Academy status in the first wave of transfer with a cash boost of 10% or more.   newstatesman./10 things they don’t tell you about academies/ 2012

In March 2011, a survey of 1,471 head teachers by the Association of School and College Leaders showed that nearly half (46 per cent) had converted their school to academy status, or intended to do so. Three out of four were driven by the belief that such a move would benefit their schools financially, not educationally.

Under a ‘first the carrot – then the stick’ approach, schools which did not directly apply were later forced into academy status on the basis that they were either failing or ‘coasting’ schools.  It is clear that the plan was to convert all schools into academy status taking control from local authorities and local communities.  A direct statement to that effect in 2016 was roundly attacked causing an apparent U-turn but the statement below confirms that this is still on the government’s agenda.

The Government said it will bring forward legislation that all schools will be made to convert in cases where the local authority “can no longer viably support its remaining schools”, for instance if a “critical mass” of academy schools already exist. New analysis of the revised strategy, however, suggests this will have accumulative effect on schools – as more schools are converted, more local authorities will be taken over as a result.  In effect, 100 per cent of schools will still be converted into academies by the year 2020 as planned.

Although the initial concept of the academy movement was to give more local control, quite quickly the views of parents and teachers were overruled by central government.  This is an ideological shift in power from locally elected councils controlling budgets to money provided directly into the hands of private academy groups such as the Harris Federation and Ark.  While per pupil funding has been frozen or cut across the board, Academy schools are able to set their own pay scales.  Sir Daniel Moynihan, CEO of Harris Academies Chain has seen his pay rise by 83% since 2009 to £400,000.

His salary, which is now approaching three times that of the prime minister, has risen by 83% since 2009. Moynihan’s position is akin to a local authority director of education and so as far as we are aware his salary in that position is unmatched in the UK.

Arpad Busson, the founding Chairman of Ark Schools was a contributor to Tory party funds.  Stanley (Lord) Fink member of Ark’s Global Board of Trustees was previously the Tory Party Treasurer.  In 2015 both were named in the HSBC-Tory Party donors – tax evasion scandal.  wembleymatters.2015/02/ark-schools-tory-donors-tax-evasion

There is no evidence that Academy Schools raise standards.  There is evidence that in some instances league table positions are being manipulated by these large academy chains.

Some schools would have performed much worse than official league tables show if “churn rates” had been taken into account, it has been claimed. Data from Education DataLab shows about 20,000 secondary pupils left before they sat their GCSE exams. If the students had remained, some schools would not have scored as highly on the official league tables.  The figures show Harris Academy Greenwich would have seen the biggest impact on its league table position. One year it would have seen its GCSE pass rates for grades A-C drop by 15%. In the last four years 611 pupils completed their secondary education at the school, while 217 left before the January of their final year.Nine out of the bottom 100 were also Harris Academies.

If poor performing students are ‘encouraged’ to leave before the count in January they do not appear in the final league table score.

In January, a damning investigation by BBC2’s Newsnight highlighted the practice of “unofficial exclusion”- that is, the quiet, below-the-radar process of easing out troublesome pupils who might undermine an academy’s stability and all-important position in the school league tables. The Newsnight report cited comments made by Gary Phillips, head teacher of the Lillian Baylis Technology School, a local authority college in south London, which every year has to take in new pupils from academies.

“Many of them are seeking to move because of what I often call ‘the dark arts’,” Phillips said. “They’ve been asked to move rather than be permanently excluded; they’ve been ignored for a few months on study leave, or ignored in a study support centre.”

Education lawyers worry that academies’ much-lauded league table successes come at the expense of their most vulnerable pupils.

Privatisation of schools:

The academy process when complete will see all state schools, assets which belonged to taxpayers and local communities, passed into private hands.  Control will be via central government, with the Education Funding Agency being both funder and regulator.  This programme has been forced upon reluctant schools and local authorities under the guise of dealing with failing/coasting schools.  Elected local councillors, parents and school governors have lost control of the process.  Academies are currently non-profit but freedom to control their own budgets means they can allocate resources to private (profit making) contractors some of whom are linked to the owners and they have the discretion to increase top salaries and bonus payments.  theguardian./June/12/academy-schools-cash-cow-business

The final step in the privatisation by stealth will be allowing schools to make a direct profit. The clause preventing schools from making a profit has been dropped from the 2017  conservative manifesto.  You may not have voted for the privatisation of schools in 2010 or 2015 but in all but name that is what we have.

dominic raab cropped  Dominic Raab, MP for Esher and Walton since 2010.

Speaking in the 2010 debate to introduce the Academy Bill:  All quotes can be found here: Hansard

Clause 5, and the arrangements that accompany the Bill, deal with a further issue, that of accountability. No school can become an academy without consultation and a resolution by the governors. The idea that parasitic sponsors can sideline all the parents and all the teachers is an over-peddled myth. The truth is that the real risk to our schools and the real threat to our children come not from putting parents, teachers and community groups in charge of our children’s schooling, but from the overweening, over-regulating, overbearing intrusions of an increasingly arbitrary and arrogant state bureaucracy built up by the last Government.

We must free our children, teachers and parents from the suffocating straitjacket of state control. The Bill is just the first legislative step in the right direction. I hope that modernisers in all parties in the House will come together to clear away the vested interests blocking change,

Speaking at a 2011 Backbench Meeting on Education Business:

The recipe for success is not complicated and bureaucratic. We must trust teachers and parents more, demand academic rigour, and free up schools to innovate.

Contrary to claims in attacks by the teaching unions, academies are raising standards. The Harris Federation achieved a 10% increase in pupils getting five good GCSEs in schools last year, while ARK academies saw a 12% improvement. That is a strong base on which the Government can build. We are only a year in, however, and challenges remain, one in England certainly being the pressure on school places—in my constituency, I have seen it cause concern to many parents in Elmbridge. I would like to know a bit more about what the Government will do to address such pressures on school places and parental choices, in addition to the academies and free schools programme.

On the subject of school funding and for-profit schools:

At a time of financial pressure, funding is difficult and contentious, and the allocation of existing funding becomes even more important. The whole issue of the funding formula—its transparency and objectivity—is of acute concern to parents in my constituency. It is probably the No. 1 issue raised with me at open town hall meetings; I have held six recently. The issue comes up time and again. We know that the funding formula will be addressed in the context of the NHS and local authorities, but I am interested to hear more about the process in relation to the schools budget.

What further consideration is being given to the role of profit-based schools in providing extra capacity? I appreciate that talking about this is regarded as almost taboo, but a recent study by the Adam Smith Institute revealed how well placed such schools are to boost the number of free schools, which are a flagship Government policy.

Regarding education spending in the budget debate 2017:

As well as the measures to stimulate the economy and to ensure that we are at our most competitive, the Budget includes significant investment in skills. There has been a record level of investment in schools under this Government, and we have seen fresh money allocated to new schools and existing schools. I listened very carefully to the hon. Member for Wallasey. The truth is that 1.8 million more children are studying in state schools that are deemed good or outstanding than in 2010, when the last Labour Government were in office. That is probably the accomplishment of this Government of which I am most proud. The question now is not how we rest on our laurels, but how we build on that accomplishment.

In 2012 Ofsted changed the ‘satisfactory’ rating to ‘requires improvement’.  The majority of schools previously rated ‘satisfactory’ were now transferred to ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ which boosted numbers overnight for this category.

Dominic has voted in line with the government since 2015. 

turn all schools academies

schools no consultation

schools parents involvment

academies student fees

education budget

grammer schools

school strikes

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