Green­ing raids bud­get for free schools to help fund £1.3bn ed­u­ca­tion bail-out

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Camilla Turner and Gor­don Rayner

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

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