Despite the unprecedented challenges the global Covid pandemic has created this year, the Department for Education has been delivering on the Government’s promise to provide world-class education, training and care for everyone, whatever their background.
Investing in schools and teachers
We said we would provide schools with more funding and we have invested an extra £14.4 billion in funding for schools, in total, over the three years to 2022-23.
In June, we committed over £1 billion to fund the first 50 projects of a new, ten-year school rebuilding programme, starting from 2020-21.
In 2020-21, we also allocated £2 billion in condition funding for essential maintenance and upgrades across the school estate, which includes an additional £560 million announced by the government in June.
In addition, we are on track to deliver projects to rebuild or refurbish buildings in poor condition at 90 schools during 2020-21, through the Priority School Building Programme.
The number of teachers also remains high, with over 453,000 teachers working in schools across the country - that is over 12,000 more teachers than in 2010.
This year starting salaries for teachers have already increased by 5.5% and we remain committed to achieving a £30k starting salary.
Looking after pupil wellbeing
In May, we announced £6.5 million to put social workers in schools to support children at risk. Across the education sector, we have provided £5.4m worth of grant funding through the College Collaboration Fund - five of the projects funded support student and/or staff mental health and wellbeing via online programmes and remote support.
Our £8 million Wellbeing for Education Return programme is helping education staff respond to additional mental health pressures caused by the pandemic by providing training and support to local schools and colleges via councils, the vast majority of whom – 97% of councils - have taken up the offer.
Our new relationships, sex and health education (RSHE) curriculum equips all schools with age-appropriate and comprehensive guidance on how to keep children safe and healthy in their personal and social lives.
In January, the Department launched the Period Product scheme. This scheme intends to ensure that no pupil misses out on education due to their period.
In July, we announced schools in England will benefit from £320 million from the PE and Sport Premium during the academic year 2020-21 to help children get an active start in life, supporting primary schools to improve the quality of their PE and sport provision so that pupils experience the benefits of regular exercise – from becoming healthier both mentally and physically to improved behaviour and better academic achievement.
Caring for vulnerable children and young people
We are increasing high needs funding for councils by £780 million this year and a further £730 million in 2021-22, boosting the total budget for supporting young people with the most complex special educational needs and disabilities to more than £8 billion next year.
We are providing £3.6 billion in funding this year (2020-21) to provide early education and childcare places – and the vast majority of early education and childcare providers are rated good or Outstanding by Ofsted (96% as of 31 March 2020).
In 2015 Government launched the adoption support fund. To date it has provided over £177 million to support 62,000 families across the country.
We have also launched a consultation into unregulated accommodation for children in care aiming to drive up standards, including banning under-16s from being placed in unregulated accommodation, tackling concerns about the number of under-16s being left at risk of exploitation.
The latest Spending Review included a £500 million package for new specialist services for children and young people - including in schools, extra support for people with severe mental illness, faster access to psychological support for conditions such as depression and anxiety.
To support vulnerable children, we are boosting high needs funding by £780 million this year and a further £730 million next year – bringing it to a total of £8 billion in 2021-22. Our SEND review will further improve how young people with additional needs are supported.
We embarked on an ambitious project to deliver more than 200,000 laptops in fewer than 80 days to enable children to access remote education. We are now on track to deliver half a million laptops since the start of the Pandemic.
Making sure people have the skills the country needs as part of our Plan For Jobs
The Life Time Skills Guarantee, announced by the Prime Minister in September, will enable tens of thousands of adults to benefit from almost 400 free courses next year. Backed by £95 million from the National Skills Fund, the new courses will be available to all adults without a full Level 3 qualification and will open doors to new and better jobs.
We promised to level up education so that vocational and technical qualifications are as highly valued as their academic counterparts. As part of our comprehensive reforms to post-16 technical education, we launched pioneering new T Level qualifications.
T Levels are high quality technical courses, equivalent to A Levels. Once fully rolled out T Levels will be backed by £500 million per year, and we have made £133 million capital funding available for T Levels starting in 2020 and 2021.
Colleges and other post-16 providers will also benefit from an additional £400 million boost for 16-19 education in 2020/21 - the biggest injection of new money in a single year since 2010.
As part of our Plan For Jobs the Government introduced incentive payments to support employers who hire new apprentices, £2,000 for apprentices aged 16 to 24 and £1,500 for apprentices aged 25 and over.
We will shortly be launching a Further Education (FE) White Paper. The paper will form a central element of our Plan For Jobs. This follows the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson’s speech on FE in July which set out his personally driven mission to raise the profile of our FE colleges and the quality of technical and vocational qualifications.
Universities and Higher Education
In May, we announced a package of measures to support our world class universities and students impacted by the pandemic.
An estimated £2.6 billion of tuition fee payments have been bought forward to help universities better manage financial risks over the autumn, and the Science Minister also announced that £100m of public funding will be brought forward to this academic year to help protect vital university research activities.
The Office for Students has provided up to £3 million for its Student Space platform, a collaborative mental health resource that bridges gaps in mental health support for students at English and Welsh universities brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
We have worked with 126 universities in England to offer the majority of students COVID-19 tests before they return home for the Christmas break.
These tests provide further assurances students can travel home safely, in addition to the national four-week restrictions already in place, which will minimise the risk of transmission.
The latest figures show that this academic year, 371,960 English students were accepted onto a full-time undergraduate course at university. This includes 24,900 18-year olds from the most disadvantaged backgrounds in England – a record entry rate of 23.1%.
We announced that we would consult across the educational sector on options for introducing a post-qualification admissions system. This could also put an end to the increasing use of unconditional offers, which sees students being encouraged to accept an offer which might not be the best option for them.
More information on the Department and our policies can be found on gov.uk.