Greening raids budget for free schools to help fund £1.3bn education bail-out
FREE schools face a budget raid to help fund a £1.3 billion cash injection for other schools after the Treasury refused to release any extra funds.
Ministers are using money for the Government’s flagship free school programme – some of which would have been for new grammars – to increase the amount of cash for all schools.
Justine Greening, the Education Secretary, said that the extra money was needed desperately to address the issue of school funding, which had been raised on the doorstep during the Tories’ election campaign.
She said the £1.3billion would all be made from “efficiencies and savings” in the Department for Education’s (DFE) budget, an admission that her bid to the Chancellor for extra cash was unsuccessful.
Just before the election, the DFE was handed an extra £320million by the Treasury to build 140 new free schools, some of which would have been used to set up grammars. But last month Miss Greening said that Government had axed plans to lift the ban on grammars, meaning that no new selective schools would be built. She told the Commons yesterday that while she “remains committed” to the free schools programme, 30 of the 140 currently planned will now be delivered through local authorities, saving £280 million by 2020.
It follows reports that the Government was looking to drop its free school programme altogether, amid concerns they are too expensive.
Miss Greening also confirmed plans to introduce a national funding formula, aiming to ensure money is distributed more fairly across the country, from 2018-19. A further £420 million would be found from the main schools capital budget – the majority of which would come from healthy pupils capital funding, which was going to be used for new sports facilities. Making the announcement, Miss Greening told MPS the Government had recognised people’s concerns during the general election about the “overall level of funding in schools, as well as its distribution”.
Miss Greening said this investment would increase the basic amount of funding for every pupil, with up to 3 per cent more per year per pupil for underfunded schools and a 0.5 per cent increase per pupil for every school. She added it would provide at least £4,800 per pupil for every secondary school.
The Education Secretary also outlined further details on how it would be funded, including that across her department she would reprioritise £250million in 2018/19 and £350million in 2019/20.
Miss Greening said she would redirect £200 million from central programmes, but declined to specify which ones. She also said efficiency experts will be sent to schools with the worst finances.
Angela Rayner, shadow education secretary, said she welcomed the £1.3billion announced by the Government, but said: “Astoundingly, this is all being funded without a penny of new money from the Treasury.”
£4,800 The amount the Education Secretary says this new investment would provide per pupil in every secondary school