Brexit: education and health spending rerouted to fishing and farming

“Cabinet ministers are being told that some of their most prized projects cannot be developed because so many officials have been diverted to delivering Brexit, it has emerged.

Ministers’ priority programmes have fallen victim to “re-prioritisation”, according to internal government warnings seen by the Observer.

Government insiders said they knew of examples of officials usually dealing with schools and hospitals who were now redeployed to work on farming and fishing as a result of the scramble to prepare for all Brexit outcomes, including no deal. “It’s a real worry now that things are being held up and not happening,” said one senior Whitehall source. “We are really starting to see it as the Brexit process drags on and on.”

A memo to a senior minister, said: “In the context of ongoing cross-government re-prioritisation exercises, departments have not yet been able to resource the necessary cross-government team to deliver the work.”

The government’s plans for resolving the crisis in social care and a review of university finance are among the major policy proposals that are said to have been held up by Brexit, while many other areas have suffered due to the lack of parliamentary time and political instability. …”

“Schools staff crisis looms as austerity hits teachers’ pay”

“Ministers have conceded that teachers’ pay has fallen by thousands of pounds a year since the public spending austerity drive began, amid warnings of a “looming crisis” in attracting and retaining new staff.

Classroom pay has fallen by more than £4,000 a year since 2010 in real terms, according to a government assessment. Damian Hinds, the education secretary, warned that only a 2% increase can be expected for the next academic year.

The admission comes in the Department for Education’s official submission to the School Teachers’ Review Body, which makes recommendations on pay deals. It states that pay is also lower than it was 15 years ago in real terms. “From 2002-03 to 2017-18, classroom teacher median salaries have seen a drop of 10% and overall teacher median salaries of 11% in real terms,” it says. It argues that the fall was smaller than that suffered by private sector graduates.

Unions have been calling for a 5% rise for the next academic year, arguing that low pay makes it hard to retain staff. Last year, about 60% of teachers were expected to receive below-inflation awards. …”

Government finally admits there is a teacher crisis

“Cash incentives and a better work-life balance are part of a new attempt to solve England’s teacher shortage.

Plans published on Monday by ministers will offer some young secondary teachers £5,000 in their third and fifth years in the classroom – on top of initial £20,000 training bursaries.

Young teachers could also have some protected time for extra training.
Head teachers’ unions said more help for young recruits was essential to tackle the crisis in teacher numbers.

Currently, teachers in subjects with shortages, such as physics, chemistry, and languages, can receive a bursary of up to £26,000, but there are no further payments.

The so-called “early career payment” scheme, which rewards teachers for staying in the classroom, has already been trialled for maths teachers.
Labour has criticised the plan, saying the plan will not reverse “six consecutive years” of missed teacher recruitment targets.

What’s the problem?

By 2025 the number of secondary school pupils in England will have gone up by 15%.

For several years England has had an unfolding teacher crisis, with too few starting to train and too many leaving.

In 2018/19 the number starting training as secondary school teachers was 17% below target.

Subjects such as physics, chemistry and computing face the largest shortfalls.

This has led to a growing proportion of lessons in some secondary schools being taught by teachers who are not specialists.

And there has been growing concern that young teachers are leaving because they feel overworked, burnt out and disillusioned.

Of those that started in 2012, a third were not teaching five years later. …”

“Academy schools ‘not accountable enough’ “

“Academy schools are not “sufficiently transparent or accountable to parents and local communities”, MPs have said.

Half of all children in English state-funded schools are educated by academy trusts, the Public Accounts Committee noted, in a report out today.

Academies have greater freedoms than local authority-maintained schools and can set staff pay and conditions, determine their own curriculum and are directly responsible for financial as well as educational performance.

But the PAC report said that parents and local people “have to fight to obtain even basic information” about trusts, and they do not explain decisions on how they are spending public money.

PAC chair Meg Hillier said: “When things go wrong in schools, pupils can be badly affected. We have seen the troubling consequences of poor governance and oversight of academy trusts government must raise its game to ensure the failures of the past are not repeated.

“Parents and the wider community are entitled to proper access to transparent information about their local academy schools. They must have confidence that when issues arise, robust measures are in place to deal with them.”

Academies have been criticised in recent years for paying excessive salaries to members of staff.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency had tried to tackle this issue, on the PAC’s advice, the committee noted.

The ESFA wrote to 29 single academies in November 2017 asking for justification of salaries over £150,000.

But, the committee said, the ESFA action alone would not prevent academy staff being paid excessive salaries.

The PAC also noted that Ofsted and ESFA are not able to assess the impact of funding pressures on the quality of education and the outcomes schools achieve.

It recommended the ESFA should require academy trusts, in the academies financial handbook 2019, to make financial information more readily available. The guidance should also require academies to be more transparent about governance and decision-making at all levels. …”

“Tory MP attacks ‘politically-motivated’ headteacher after she claimed that ‘poor pupils are so hungry they are taking apple cores out of the bins’ “

Owl doesn’t care what her motivation was – it salutes her”

“A Tory MP has attacked a ‘politically-motivated’ head teacher after she claimed that some pupils from poor families were so hungry at school they ate apple cores taken out of bins.

Siobhan Collingwood said children were turning up for classes with ‘nothing in their lunchboxes’ and spent the day ‘fixated on food’.

She told Breakfast this week: ‘It’s heartbreaking.

‘We have children who are stealing fruit cores from the bins.’

Mrs Collingwood, of Morecambe Bay Primary School, Lancashire, also claimed she had seen desperate families watering down milk and loaning each other food – and linked the problems with benefit changes and universal credit.

However, David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, insisted the claims were unfounded and part of a campaign by Jeremy Corbyn-supporting Momentum activists in the area.

Mr Morris said: ‘Recently a governor has resigned from this school due to politicisation.’

Last night Mrs Collingwood stressed: ‘Everything I said was based on personal experience.’ …”

“Nearly 5,000 schools in England not given promised cash – union”

“England’s biggest teaching union has accused the government of breaking its promise to provide a modest cash boost to every school in England, claiming figures reveal that nearly 5,000 schools have received no extra funds or have even had their funding cut.

In the wake of mounting concern among teachers and parents about a school budget crisis, the education secretary, Damian Hinds, told MPs last year that a new national funding formula would guarantee each school “at least a small cash increase”, a pledge repeated by the prime minister in the Commons last May.

The National Education Union argued the offer was inadequate given the scale of the school funding squeeze, but its analysis of recent government figures subsequently revealed that 4,819 schools had either received no extra funds or had had their budget cut.

“This is yet another failure and another broken promise by government on school funding,” said Kevin Courtney, NEU joint general secretary. “The fact remains that schools were never going to manage on the money promised by government.

“However, headteachers, teachers, school staff and parents will be dismayed that even the meagre amounts of funds supposedly allocated to schools will not be received by everyone. Parents and school staff simply cannot trust what the government says on education funding.”

The NEU compared the schools block funding allocations for 2017-18 and 2018-19 and found that a quarter of primary schools (25%) and one in six secondary schools (17%) either received no cash increase or suffered an actual cut to their funding.

Responding to the NEU analysis, a Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson said that since 2017 the government had given every local authority more money for every pupil in every school in order to ensure fairer funding across the country.

“Government provides this money to local authorities and they have the freedom to work with schools to allocate their budgets in a way that best suits local needs,” the spokesperson said.

“While there is more money going into our schools than ever before, we do recognise the budgeting challenges schools face and that we are asking them to do more. That’s why we’re supporting schools and headteachers, and their local authorities, to make the most of every pound.”

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, total school spending per pupil in England has fallen by about 8% in real terms between 2009-10 and 2017-18. …”