10-year plan needed to fix school funding system

The Education Committee has argued that the government must fix the broken education funding system and bring forward a strategic ten-year education funding plan.

In the committee’s latest report on school and college funding, MPs also argue that the government should commit to a multi-billion cash injection for schools and colleges as it revealed that many schools across the country are increasingly being asked to cover additional services – such as mental health, social issues and more complex special educational needs and disabilities provision.

This is being expected without adequate resources, putting the sector under significant strain over the past decade. Schools and college are also facing unprecedented pressure from rising pupil numbers and costs, the report claimed.

The report recommends: ensuring schools get the multi-billion pound investment they desperately need; increasing school funding by raising the age-weighted pupil unit value; increasing high needs funding for special educational needs and disabilities to address a projected £1.2 billion deficit; implementing the full roll-out of the National Funding Formula as soon as feasible, and making the various funding formulae more forward-looking and less reliant on historical factors; and ensuring all eligible students attract Pupil Premium and overcome existing barriers to automatic enrolment as a matter of priority.

MPs Aldo claim that the government should secure the full amount of estimated Pupil Premium money from the Treasury that has not been claimed because students did not register for free school meals, and allocate this money to disadvantaged children; as well as extending the Pupil Premium to provide for 16–19 year olds.

Robert Halfon, chair of the committee, said: "Education is crucial to our nation's future. It is the driver of future prosperity and provides the ladder of opportunity to transform the life chances of millions of our young people. If it is right that the NHS can have a ten-year plan and a five-year funding settlement, then surely education, perhaps the most important public service, should also have a ten-year plan and a long-term funding settlement.

“Substantial amounts of money have been allocated to education by the government, but spending has not kept pace with the growing demands placed on our schools and colleges. Alongside the ten-year plan, the government needs to cover the eight per cent funding gap currently faced by schools.

“There is a crisis of confidence in the ability of mainstream schools to provide adequate SEND support. This needs to be tackled through increased school funding to support better early intervention. The government must also spend an extra £1 billion to address the projected high needs deficit. There should be automatic enrolment so all eligible students receive Pupil Premium, and previously unclaimed money should be clawed back from the Treasury to help the most disadvantaged pupils. Pupil Premium should also be extended to 16-19 education.

“Given the march of the robots and the rise of automation, it is extraordinary that further education has for so long been starved of cash. Funding further education properly must sit at the heart of a ten-year plan. To make sure we are giving schools and colleges the money they need, we are calling for a comprehensive, bottom-up national assessment of the real-world costs of delivering a quality education. A proper ten-year plan and long-term funding settlement would provide stability for schools and colleges and help ensure that our education system is fit for the 21st century."

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