Today’s news review looks at coverage of a report from the National Audit Office on school funding.
Today, Wednesday 14 December, the National Audit Office issued a report on the financial sustainability of schools. This suggests that schools will need to make savings of around £3 billion by 2020 to counteract cost pressures.
The story was covered extensively in both broadcast and print, including BBC News, the Today programme, Good Morning Britain, the Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Mirror, Daily Mail, I, the Independent, and BBC Online.
However, the coverage does not fully reflect that we have protected the core schools budget in real terms, and in 2016-17 schools will have more funding than ever before – more than £40 billion.
In addition to this, there are a wide range of other initiatives aimed at supporting school improvements, including a £50 million-a-year fund from September 2017 for local authorities to continue to monitor and commission school improvement for low-performing maintained schools; a new £140 million ‘Strategic School Improvement Fund’ for academies and maintained schools; and £60 million of investment to pilot Opportunity Areas across the country and improve the life chances of young people.
Furthermore, the £41 million maths mastery programme will see the expansion of high-quality maths teaching across the primary school system; the £13 million regional academy growth fund supports successful academy trusts to grow and improve standards in underperforming schools; and the teaching and leadership innovation fund, worth £75 million over three years, focused on supporting teachers and school leaders in challenging areas to develop.
We are also due to set out fairer funding proposals for schools as part of the second phase of a consultation on the National Funding Formula.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
We want schools to have the resources they need, and through our careful management of the economy we have been able to protect the core schools budget in real terms. That means that in 2016-17 schools will have more funding than ever before for children’s education, totalling over £40 billion.
We are introducing a national fair funding formula so schools are funded according to their pupils’ needs, rather than by their postcode. This will give headteachers certainty over their future budgets, helping them make long term plans and secure further efficiencies.
We recognise the increasing cost pressures schools are facing and will continue to provide advice and support to help them use their funding in cost effective ways, and improve the way they buy goods and services, so they get the best possible value for their pupils.