Prime Minister Pledges More Money for Education

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has pledged more money for education and has said in a statement that extra financing will be made available for primary and secondary education at the next Spending Round.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“When I became Prime Minister at the start of the summer, I promised to make sure every child receives a superb education – regardless of which school they attend, or where they grew up.

Today I can announce the first step in delivering on that pledge – funding per pupil in primary and secondary schools will increase, and be levelled up across the entire country.

We should not accept the idea that there can be “winners or losers” when it comes to our children’s futures. That’s why we are providing additional funding now and for the future for every school, with those historically underfunded receiving the greatest increase.

My government will ensure all young people get the best possible start in life. That means the right funding, but also giving schools the powers they need to deal with bad behaviour and bullying so pupils continue to learn effectively.”

Angela Rayner, the Shadow Secretary of State for Education, said in a statement:

“This comes nowhere close to meeting the Prime Minister’s pledge to reverse the Tories’ education cuts, let alone matching Labour’s plans to invest in a National Education Service. Instead, it is yet another con trick by a politician who shown time and again that you just can’t trust his promises.

With the Chancellor only committing to a one-year Spending Round schools are being told to wait years for desperately needed funding, and the truth is that the government’s figures would prove an absolute fantasy after the damage done by a disastrous no-deal Brexit.

Pupils with special educational needs and disabilities are struggling to access the help they need, and yet today the Education Secretary hasn’t even offered enough to cover half of the funding shortfall and not for another year.

Today’s announcement completely ignores the impact of cuts on vital services like nursery schools and Sure Start centres or adult learning and training, and school buildings will continue to crumble as cuts to capital funding continue.

Teachers and parents know that it is only a Labour government that can be trusted to invest in an education system that gives every child the best start in life.”

GCSE Grades Fall Slightly as New Changes Come Into Force

Nick Gibb

The overall pass rate for GCSEs has fallen to 66.3% from 66.9% as the first wave of new GCSE exams marked with a new 1-9 system are introduced. The pass rate for English literature fell to 72% from 74.5%, but the pass rate for Maths improved from 61.5% to 68.9%.

The Maths and English exams were given marks on a scale of 1 to 9, with grade 7 representing the former A-grade standard and 4 representing the former C-grade standard. Other GCSE exams will also change in future years, with all GCSEs by 2020 being marked using the new system.

Nick Gibb, the Schools Standards Minister, said:

“Today, hundreds of thousands of 16-year-olds find out the results of 2 years or more of hard work and study. They will now move onto the next phase of their education well equipped for what lies ahead and I would like to thank their teachers whose dedication and hard work has helped them achieve success.

The government’s new gold-standard GCSEs in English and maths have been benchmarked against the best in the world, raising academic standards for pupils. These reforms represent another step in our drive to raise standards, so that pupils have the knowledge and skills they need to compete in a global workplace.

The fruits of these reforms will be seen in the years to come, but already pupils and teachers are rising to the challenge with more than 50,000 top 9 grades awarded across the new GCSEs and more than two thirds of entries sitting the tougher English and maths exams securing a grade 4 or C and above – a standard pass.

As we saw with last week’s new A-levels, we are beginning to see our reforms translating into higher standards, improving opportunities and the life chances of millions of young people and helping to fulfil the voracious demand for knowledgeable and skilled young people from Britain’s dynamic and growing economy”.

Labour Announce that Student Fees Would be Scrapped Immediately

The Labour Party has confirmed that student fees would be scrapped immediately so that those entering university this year wouldn’t have to pay the tuition charges. The party also confirmed that students already part-way through their courses wouldn’t have to pay for any future years.

Angela Rayner, the Shadow Education Secretary, said in a statement:

“You’ve got young people, regardless of their wealth, that are leaving university after working hard, they’ve finally got their degrees, they’re going into their job for the first time, junior doctors etcetera, and they’re saddled with debt for years and years”.

Nick Clegg, the former Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister, said:

“Let’s be very clear what this is for – it is to relieve graduates in the future of the need to make any contribution to their university education while, and here is the odd choice, not reversing a lot of the very punitive and aggressive benefit cuts which will affect some of the poorest in the country. If the choice is between the poorest and some of the richest graduates of the future, I would choose helping the poorest”.

Government pledges an additional £2.4 billion for schools

Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development

Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for Education, has announced a £2.4 billion funding boost for the education system. The money will primarily be used to help fund additional school places and to improve the condition of existing school buildings.

Greening said in a statement:

“Our Plan for Britain is to build a fairer society, with a good school place available for every child.

This £2.4 billion investment, together with our proposals to create more good school places, will help ensure every young person has the opportunity to fulfil their potential”.]

Angela Rayner, the Shadow Education Secretary, was criticial of the funding arrangement and said:

“The secretary of state’s so-called fair funding formula is neither fair nor funded, and she needs to look again at the impact that it will have on the most disadvantaged areas in our country before moving forward with it”.

Government to Discuss Plans to Create New Grammar Schools

Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development

The Government is today to announce plans to allow for the creation of new grammar schools across the country. A debate will take place in the House of Commons which is led by Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for Education.

Accidentally revealed Government papers showed last week that there were plans to allow new grammar schools to open. Allowing new schools to open based on selection was stopped by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998.

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, said on education last week in a keynote speech:

“We are effectively saying to poorer and some of the most disadvantaged children in our country that they can’t have the kind of education their richer counterparts can enjoy”.

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Minister without Portfolio, said about the plans:

“Grammar schools won’t improve the lives of the many; they offer nothing to help hundreds of thousands of our children who deserve the best start in life. In returning to this failed project Theresa May is shifting the Tories even further from the interests of ordinary people, further that even David Cameron who said that rejecting the stale old grammars debate was a ‘key test’ of whether the Tories were fit for government”.

Schools Minister Suggests Government May Legislate to Limit Term-Time Holidays

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Nick Gibb, the Schools Minister, has said that the Government is disappointed in the High Court ruling which quashed the legal right of a council to fine parents for their childrens’ non-attendance in school.

Gibb said in the House of Commons:

“We have increased the fines issued to parents of pupils with persistent unauthorised absence, placed greater emphasis on school attendance levels in inspection outcomes and, crucially, we have clamped down on the practice of taking term-time holidays. Those measures have been strikingly successful: the number of persistent absentees in this country’s schools has dropped by over 40%, from 433,000 in 2010 to 246,000 in 2015, and some 4 million fewer days are lost due to unauthorised absence compared with 2012-2013”.

He concluded:

“We are awaiting the written judgment from the High Court and will outline our next steps in due course. The House should be assured that we will seek to take whatever measures are necessary to give schools and local authorities the power and clarity to ensure that children attend school when they should”.

Perry Beeches Academy Trust Reported to have been Stripped of its Schools

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The Guardian Newspaper is reporting that the Perry Beeches Academy Trust may be stripped of its five academy schools following financial irregularities.

A report published by the Education Funding Agency earlier this month said:

“There have been serious breaches of the Academies Financial Handbook including serious concerns about financial management, control and governance”.

The Guardian said:

“An academy chain responsible for five secondary schools that was praised by David Cameron and Michael Gove is to be stripped of all its schools, according to sources close to the Department for Education”.

The newspaper added that a Whitehall source had said:

“This shows the academy system is working, with the EFA identifying issues and regional schools commissioners intervening and rebrokering effectively, as part of a robust system of oversight”.

National Union of Teachers Back Strike Action

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The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has backed strike action after a vote at their annual conference. The strike action would be in opposition to the Government’s White Paper on Education, including the plan to turn all schools into academies by 2022.

Although a strike may not take place there is also the possibility that other teaching unions could join in with strike action on the same dates.

Earlier in the week Anne Swift, the President of the NUT, said at her Presidential address at the conference:

“Our union recognises the dangers, understands the issues and focuses on the campaigns that will make a difference. It is essential that we stand together with our fellow professionals. We are a union that stands up for education and protects our members in their workplaces. We should say No to Nicky; No to forced academies, No to privatisation and No to ludicrous testing and accountability systems”.

A spokesman for the Department of Education said:

“As set out in our white paper we are determined to continue with our vision to ensure every single child has the best possible education, as well as raising the status of the profession. It would be refreshing to see the NUT doing likewise”.

Government Minister speaks of need in schools for good business management

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Sam Gyimah, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Childcare and Education, has made a speech in Birmingham talking about the importance of business managers in schools.

He said that good financial management was essential in ensuring that schools used their budgets wisely and the role of business managers shouldn’t be under-estimated. He explained that the number of bursars and financial experts had tripled in the state school system since 2005 and it was helping in ensuring that there was better value for money.

Gyimah said:

“So I hope that governors, headteachers, and CEOs of multi-academy trusts across the country will take note now when I say – that this government supports you and this government will continue to support you, because we know how important your role is. Every day, your work underpins the great teaching in our schools and unlocks our goal of educational excellence, everywhere”.

The full text of the speech is available here.

David Cameron announces 18 new free schools

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The Government has today announced that 18 new free schools will be set up which represents 9,000 new school places. The Government is on track to open 500 new free schools by the 2020 General Election.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said:

“As a ‘one nation’ government we are clear that every family should have access to a great local school and every child should get the very best education – and free schools are a crucial part of that aim. The aim of this policy is crystal clear – to increase the number of good and outstanding school places so that more parents have the security of knowing their child is getting a great education.

Today’s announcement shows that we will not waver in pressing ahead with our plans to open 500 more of these innovative and exciting schools over the next 5 years, creating 270,000 places, delivering an excellent education and giving parents across the country real choice for their children”.

The Labour Party pledged in their 2015 General Election manifesto that existing free schools wouldn’t be closed but that no new free schools would be introduced where there was already a surplus of available spaces.

Also commenting on the new free schools, Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary, said:

“The free schools programme has sent out the message loud and clear, that parents should never have to settle for anything less than the best for their child. Right across the country, these innovative, community led schools are helping to fulfil our ‘one nation’ commitment to educational excellence for every child.

We know that free schools don’t just give parents greater choice, they also force existing schools to up their game. Today’s news sends a clear message that we are committed to extending this unprecedented level of choice to more parents than ever before”.