Wrigleys Solicitors And SSAT Jointly Respond To The Government's Education Policies

Why schools might be cautiously optimistic going into the new year.

Against the backdrop of a looming general election and uncertainty about a deal / no-deal Brexit, the current government have formally announced a swathe of education policies, including increased funding, which suggests that education may be a key decision-maker in any imminent campaigns. So what should we make of the announcements that have already been made, and of the leaked policy document reported by the Guardian which suggests further education reforms?

At SSAT and Wrigleys Solicitors, we are pleased that the government are finally acknowledging that, since 2010, school budgets have been stretched to breaking point. If delivered intelligently, the £2.6bn promised for 2020/21 should bring school funding back to 2015 levels with the £4.8 billion for 2021/22 and £7.1 billion for 2022/23 returning school funding to pre-austerity levels. The efforts of grassroots movements such as WorthLess? should be applauded for raising school funding as a national concern. It is not a coincidence that the government chose to focus on schools for the first of its non-Brexit-related policy announcements. However, much remains to be seen as to the impact this will have on the ground. We should continue to scrutinise the emerging details as they are released. School leaders we've spoken to continue to be concerned by several key uncertainties:

How this will be rolled out? Will schools who are currently above the national funding formula see further real-term cuts in 2020-2021? The need to properly implement a national funding formula that addresses historic inequalities, without taking money away from schools in areas of the highest disadvantage. Whether the various promised pots of money will be new money from the Treasury or be redirected from elsewhere? We also need to see further detail of what the government will expect from schools in return for the additional funding. The Spending Review, in its own words, marked 'a new focus on the outcomes the government will deliver' with outcomes and metrics underpinning implementation plans for the promised funding. The government is therefore expecting more 'bang' for its 'buck' with the Department's School Resource Managers tasked with ensuring schools make the most of every pound given to them.

Above all, while any increased funding is very welcome, it will not have an immediate effect on the issues that almost a decade of austerity has...

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