“Grammar schools given £50m diversity bursary have 2 per cent of pupils from poorer backgrounds”

Colyton Grammar School will receive £490,000.
2.3% of its pupils have free school meals.
15.0% of Axe Valley Academy pupils have free school meals.
11.3% of Exmouth Community college pupils have free school meals.
The national average is 29.1%.

“The grammar schools awarded £50m of funding by the government classify just 2 per cent of their admissions as disadvantaged, according to research.

The sixteen schools, which have been given a share of a £50m investment awarded by the government to expand their institutions are said to have some of the worst diversity records in the country, according to the House of Commons library.

Altogether, the funding will create 4,000 more grammar school places from poorer backgrounds.

The pot, which the government said it would provide in May, was criticised for providing a “covert” way to annexe the schools, which were accused of limiting social mobility, reported The Independent.

In order to qualify for the fund, the institutions had to submit plans on how they would try to increase the proportion of poorer pupils, reported The Times.

0.4 per cent of pupils receiving free school meals

The schools applying for the cash had to submit plans on how they would try to increase the proportion of poorer pupils.

One of the schools receiving funds from the government has 0.4 per cent of its pupils receive free school meals.

At Kendrick School, a girls’ grammar in Reading, the figure was in comparison to 9.8 per cent of secondary school pupils receiving school meals across the local authority.

Just 1 per cent of pupils qualified for free school meals at Chelmsford County High School for Girls, in comparison to an Essex-wide figure of 9 per cent, reported The Times. …”


“School standards dip across the South West – but nurseries and childminders impress Ofsted”

“An annual report published by schools watchdog Ofsted showed, as of August 31 2018, 87 per cent of primary schools in Devon were judged as good or outstanding – a drop of four per cent compared to August 31 2017.

Seventy-six per cent of secondary schools in Devon were judged good or outstanding, a drop of six per cent.

The report said: “By the end of August 2018, 83 per cent of schools in the South West were judged good or outstanding at their most recent inspection, compared with 86 per cent nationally.

“This was a four percentage points decline for the region compared with August 2017.

“For primary schools, 84 per cent in the region were judged to be good or outstanding, a four percentage points decline compared with August 2017 figures. For secondary schools, 73 per cent were judged to be good or outstanding – below the national figure and a six percentage points decline compared with August 2017.” …


Privatisation: making money out of our children

Schools: 7,000 privatised:

Private firms are making big money out of children’s social services:

University accommodation providers screwing students

“… Our investigation found that the cost of the cheapest halls at Russell Group universities jumped by an average of 41% between 2008 and 2018, despite maintenance loans rising by as little as 13%. Freedom of Information requests revealed that some of the UK’s brightest students are being priced out of university accommodation all together.”

Source: Waugh Zone, Huffington Post

“Councils warn that schools are ‘running on empty’ after minister bets [with champagne] that they can still save more money”

“Councils have hit back after education minister Lord Agnew bet a bottle of champagne that he could identify waste in any school:


Representatives of local authorities today also warned the Commons Education Select Committee about increased pressure on SEND spending, and the impact of funding pressures on education standards.

The minister last week told the School and Academies Show: “I would challenge anyone here, if they want to have a wager with me, that I can’t find some waste in your schools. I will take you on.

“I will use the teams I’ve got at the DfE to win that wager. If I lose the wager, which is entirely possible, I promise to give you a bottle of champagne and a letter of commendation.”

Asked about the comments today, Paul Carter, of the County Councils Network, told MPs “the tank is running on empty”.

“Well, [schools] have delivered efficiencies,” he told the committee, which is holding an inquiry into school and college funding. …

Yolande Burgess, strategy director at London Councils, raised concerns about what some people may count as an efficiency saving.

She said a London Councils survey last year showed that 47 per cent of secondary schools had reduced the breadth of their curriculum, 70 per cent of primaries had cut the number of teaching assistants, and 63 per cent of all schools had cut spending on learning resources.

She asked: “Is that a cost efficiency?”

Anntoinette Bramble, of the Local Government Association, said there was a place for efficiency savings, but warned, “Let’s not conflate that with ensuring that we have the right investment in schools.”

She added: “If you have been a local authority or school that has taken that cost-efficiency journey, you are back to ‘we need to resource our schools and run our schools and we need the appropriate money in the system to do that’.”

Committee chair Robert Halfon asked the three representatives whether they agreed that “the efficiency argument that the minister has put is not really apt, but not really possible given the efficiency savings that have already been made”.

They said they agreed.


“Former academy head given £850,000 payoff” (and other sleazy details)

“The former head of a controversial academy is being paid an £850,000 severance package out of proceeds from a private leisure centre run on the school grounds, MPs have heard.

Details of the payment to Sir Greg Martin, the former head of the Durand Academy in Stockwell, south London, emerged on Monday during a hearing of the Commons public accounts committee, which is investigating academy accounts and performance.

It is the latest development in a long-running saga involving Martin, who was knighted for services to education and was once a favourite of Tory ministers, before falling out of favour as concerns grew about financial management and governance at the school.

Durand Academy has since been transferred to a new sponsor and has been renamed the Van Gogh primary school, but the Durand Education Trust (DET) retained ownership of the private leisure centre developed on the site, as well as two accommodation blocks, which originally generated additional income for the school.

John Wentworth, a DET trustee, told MPs the assets – the leisure centre and accommodation – were still generating £400,000 a year but “most” of the money was going towards Martin’s severance pay rather than going towards’ children’s education.

“At the moment, we have a considerable liability to the previous executive headteacher of Durand Academy,” Wentworth told MPs, adding that the severance figure had been “considerably higher” but had been reduced after negotiations between Martin and the Charity Commission.

Wentworth told MPs there were ongoing discussions between the DET and the Education and Skills Funding Agency about what would happen to the leisure centre and accommodation blocks. He said if the DET retained control they would be used in line with its charitable objectives “to support the wider education objectives of children in Lambeth and to support the children at the Van Gogh primary school”.

The hearing offered some fascinating insights into the complexities of transferring schools from one trust to another. The Dunraven Educational Trust, which finally took over Durand, was given just 48 hours to make a decision after the Harris Federation pulled out, though Harris helpfully shared all the information gathered during its investigations. Nevertheless, committee chair Meg Hillier described it as “a 48-hour fire sale”.

The hearing was also told about troubles at Bright Tribe, which ran 10 schools in the north and east of England which are now being rebrokered. The academies troubleshooter, Angela Barry, who was brought as interim chief executive, refused to give details about ongoing investigations but apologised for past failings.”


Children in poverty can’t even get a nourishing meal at school

“Schools have had to remove hot lunches from their menus due to the rising cost of food, a report has found.

Caterers that provide meals to schools across the UK are also blaming the national living wage and tightening budgets for forcing them to provide less nutritious food.

According to the Times, charity The Soil Association found that schools were dropping fresh fruit, yoghurts and salmon from its menus and replacing these products with cheaper cuts of meat, biscuits and custard puddings.

In 2014, free school meals for all infants were introduced at a cost of millions, but although schools are now obliged to provide a lunchtime meal for pupils, this doesn’t have to be hot.

Lower quality food

Some are now offering cold “pick and mix” lunchbox options because it saves money on washing up and serving staff. The charity spoke to 20 catering companies, all of whom reported rising costs and negative effects on quality of food.

Caterers said they were under pressure from local authorities to cut costs as one said: “Pressure is mounting on expenditure and cold meals will be the result.” One caterer said the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables had increased by 20 per cent and eggs by 14 per cent and the report concluded that a no-deal Brexit could result in a 22 per cent average tariff on food imports. …”

Read more at: https://inews.co.uk/news/education/rising-food-costs-to-blame-for-fruit-and-hot-lunches-taken-off-school-menus/