North West London
To bid for the money, schools would have to show that they were working to make sure that disadvantaged youngsters were not being excluded from access to the new places. Mr Hinds said that funding more places in grammar schools would increase choice for families and was part of the government’s wider plan to create more good school places.
The announcement was met with hostility by the opposition parties and teachers’ unions. Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow education secretary, accused the Conservatives of being obsessed with grammar schools and said that increasing selective places would do nothing to improve social mobility.
Schools warn parents about worsening budget pressures
In November, ahead of the autumn statement, a delegation of head teachers, representing about 5,000 schools across England, marched on Downing Street, protesting against “inadequate” funding and inequalities in budgets between schools in different parts of the country. As well as the teachers’ unions, there were also high-profile campaigns by regional groups of school leaders, who lobbied MPs and appeared on news outlets, arguing that funding levels were unsustainably low. They warned that staff would be made redundant and that schools would offer a narrower range of subjects. Support services, such as pastoral care and counselling, would be stopped and music and art would be cut. The government’s response seemed to shift during the year. When Justine Greening was secretary of state, the Department for Education had argued that funding was at record levels and that the new national funding formula meant that no school would end up with less than before in the redistribution of funding. Ministers made the case that school funding had been protected and had been even further enhanced by shuffling more of the Department for Education’s budget towards school spending.
Schools warn of more cuts to come as budget pressures bite
There was one subject for schools that kept recurring throughout the year – and that is likely to keep coming back next year too: money. Schools are warning that their incomes are not sufficient to meet rising demands and that a financial crisis is looming. It was a topic that was quite literally brought home to parents, as millions of families received letters sent home from school warning that head teachers would need to make tough choices without extra cash. Many parents were also directly asked to help to make up for budget shortfalls, with requests to sign up for cash payments to their children’s schools.
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