Boris Johnson's education policy including £14 billion funds for schools likely to be one of his most scrutinised moves
After the Conservative ministries of David Cameron and Theresa May oversaw nine years of austerity measures, newly re-elected prime minister Boris Johnson has embarked on the challenge of reversing those public spending cuts, with one of his new spending pledges an additional £14 billion of extra funding for schools over three years.
The pot will include £780 million for SEND pupils, while the Conservative manifesto reiterated Boris Johnson’s promise to increase per-pupil funding to a minimum of £5,000 for secondary schools from 2020, and £4,000 in primary schools from the year 2021.
Schools budgets under the pledges will rise by £2.6 billion for 2020-21, £4.8 billion for 2021 to 2022 and £7.1 billion for 2022 to 2023.
Another element of the promise is to increase recruitment incentives and deliver extra teachers by upping starting salaries to £30,000, to come in by 2022. There will also be a further top-up for teachers working in the capital.
On top of the funding, £1.5 billion per year will go into teachers’ pensions.
However, there are shortcomings that those in the sector have already picked up on. The cash investment doesn’t set out real-terms figures adjusted for inflation, nor does it account for the fact that the schools’ budget will have to rise by 2023 in any case to cater for the rising numbers of pupils that are expected.
Indeed, analysis from the National Education Union suggests that schools in the majority of constituencies will still be worse off in real terms than in 2015.
The research suggests that more than 83 per cent of schools will have less money per pupil in real terms by the time the funding comes into effect than they did in 2015.
Conservative MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, David Morris, said in response to the research: “The reality is we are boosting schools funding by £14 billion over the next three years – meaning every pupil in every school will get more money, and funding across the country will be levelled up.”
Yet, those within the education sector will remain sceptical until further clarity is provided.
Notably, the pledges also do not involve any new funding commitments for mental health provision, while a £1 billion childcare fund is being put towards increasing childcare placed by 250,000 – which will impact only five per cent of children primary school age. How this will be implemented has also not been disclosed in detail.
In terms of post-16 education, the Conservatives have promised £400 million over the next parliament, which is likely to fall short.
Issues surrounding apprenticeships and indeed the apprenticeship levy are other issues that are also going to require government attention, along with further insight as to what exactly its policy for early years provision will mean.