Today’s Education in the media blog looks at the work the department is doing to combat off-rolling, and on the record levels of funding the department is putting into schools.
Today, Tuesday 26 June, The Guardian has run a piece by Michael Rosen on school spending, in their ‘letters from a concerned parent’ segment. In his piece, Rosen says that headteachers have less money to spend and are being forced to make cuts to staff and resources. The piece is also critical of the recent funding the department has made available for grammar school expansion, following our ‘Schools that Work for Everyone’ consultation response and wrongly states that the government is spending less per pupil in real terms.
The fact is that the amount of funding in the core schools budget is at record levels – and will rise to £43.5bn by 2020. In addition, Institute for Fiscal Studies figures show that real terms per pupil funding in 2020 will be more than 50% higher than it was in 2000 and more than 70% higher than in 1990. A child taking their GCSEs this year will have seen investment of over £65k across their education since the age of 3.This is double the funding their parents’ generation would have received.
Rosen’s letter also states that there is no evidence that grammar schools are the solution for educating everyone to the best of their abilities. We have always been clear that we want to create more good school places in a way that gives parents choice. We know that selective schools offer an excellent education for children who attend them. Research shows that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds get better results in selective schools and it is this kind of life transforming education parents and the government want to see more of.
That is why – if a good grammar school demonstrates a need for places and is able to show how it will increase access for disadvantaged pupils through expansion – it should be able to expand to increase the number of good school places available to parents, on top of the 1.9 million we have created since 2010.
A DfE spokesperson said:
There is more money going into schools than ever before, with the average primary school class receiving £132,000 this year up from around £124,000 a decade ago and £84,000 in 2000.
However we recognise that we are asking schools to do more which is why the Education Secretary has set out his determination to work with the sector to bear down on cost pressures and help them make the best use of their resources.
Earlier this month we announced the launch of a new free website for schools to advertise vacancies, which they currently spend up to £75million a year on. Alongside this we are setting up a new register of teacher supply agencies that help schools avoid being charged excessive fees.
Today, Tuesday 26 June, the Times has run a second piece in a series they are doing on ‘lost children’ – children who the paper believes are being let down by the system, who are resultantly at risk of falling into criminality.
The piece today focused on the practice of ‘off rolling’ where pupils leave a school with mutual agreement before completing exams, instead of children being excluded. We want every child to grow up with the correct care and support, to make sure they have the opportunity to fulfil their potential. We know some young people face difficult challenges and certain groups are more likely to be excluded from school, which is why we are reviewing the practice of exclusions and improving alternative provision.
But we are clear that informal exclusions practices – such as when schools off roll a pupil – are unlawful and should not be done under any circumstances. Exclusions should be a last resort, and formally recorded by the school.
A DfE spokesperson said:
Exclusions guidance is clear that informal or unofficial exclusions – such as encouraging parents to take their children out of school and the practice of ‘off-rolling’ – are unlawful under all circumstances
Any decision to exclude a pupil should be lawful, reasonable and fair, and must be formally recorded by the school. Our guidance outlines how exclusions should be used, and includes summaries for schools and parents on the rules of exclusions.
Former Children’s Minister Edward Timpson is leading an external review of exclusions to look at the disproportionate rates of some children being excluded from school, and we know young people excluded from school are more likely to end up in the criminal justice system