Education, Education, Education
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BY CALVIN ROBINSON
Boris Johnson has pledged increased spending in Education of £4.6 billion per year by 2022. That’s incredibly close to the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ findings of the boost to funding that schools will likely need to reverse so-called ‘cuts’. Think tank Onward projected that schools need £3.5 billion per pupil per year to reach the peak spending levels of 2015, plus an additional £1.1 to take into consideration rising pupil numbers by 2022. Mr Johnson’s government is set to spend record levels of public money on education.
Secondary schools are to receive £5,000 per pupil per year, that’s up from £4,200 in some areas, with primary schools receiving an extra £500 per pupil, up to £4,000.
The problem isn’t necessarily that there’s not enough money going into education – the Conservative government have consistently ensured that school funding is at an all time high. One of the main problems has always been that pupil numbers have also sky-rocketed in recent years, and continue to do so.
The problem with school funding isn’t the lump sums going into the pot from the public purse, it’s the disparity in how that’s distributed across the country. School funding differs from place to place usually dependent on which local authority they belong to. If the new spending increases of £5,000 for secondaries and £4,000 for primaries are minimum spending allocations and not just recommendations, we might finally make some good progress on the matter.
Education is clearly of vital importance to our society, and it’s right that our government has recognised that. However, it could be argued that the leftist media still feel they have a monopoly on caring about education (much like they do the NHS) and it’ll take a longer time for this Conservative government to win them around. School’s Week have been predictably pessimistic in their headlines following promises of record funding and likewise the TES has published unashamedly biased articles.
Funding isn’t the only issue facing education, with the ‘progressive’ blob persistently attempting to undo Michael Gove’s fantastic initiatives as Education Secretary in 2010 – 2014. Thankfully, Munira Mirza has been appointed Director of the Number 10 Policy Unit, and Nick Gibb remains the immovable Minister of State for Schools. Both of them have shown incredible understanding of the importance of a more traditional and rigorous education centred around a knowledge-rich curriculum.
We’re just starting to see Gove’s policies come to fruition, as standards are raised in schools across the country, so it’s important that we maintain consistency in this area and don’t let these so called progressives dilute that drive towards rigour and high academic standards.
I wrote for Conservative Home back in February about what I’d like to see from our next Secretary of State for Education, so here’s hoping Gavin Williamson can pick up where Gove left off, in raising attainment through high expectations. Williamson has a history of supporting school autonomy, so we’re certainly heading in the right direction. Teachers are professionals and experts in their fields, let’s treat them as such and leave them alone to get on with the job. The last thing we need is more direction from above, or changes to the curriculum, from any side of the debate.
Calvin Robinson is a writer, speaker and educator. Follow him on twitter: @calvinrobinson