North West London

PRIMARY EDUCATION Review of the Year

Greening pushes for social mobility before leaving office

had nothing to worry about for schools. She was pressed relentlessly by school leaders on two key questions: worries about school funding and claims of shortages of teachers. Head teachers had been mounting public campaigns over pressures on school budgets, warning parents about a worsening financial situation and often calling on parents to make voluntary cash contributions. Ms Greening was not able to deliver on any major injection of new cash – although in the summer she had been able to reshuffle her department’s budget so that £1.3 billion extra was moved to frontline school spending. Her readjustments meant that funding would not decrease for the next two years, but head teachers complained that school incomes were still not keeping up with rising costs. But what she was able to pursue was a significant change in how the school budget was allocated. As well as concern about the overall size of the school budget, there had been longstanding unhappiness at how it was shared out across England. An example given by the Department for Education was that a school in Coventry could receive £510 more per pupil each year than a school with similar levels of deprivation in Plymouth. Ms Greening described this as a “manifest unfairness” and in September pushed forward with the national funding formula, which began the process of delivering a fairer allocation

Championing social mobility in our state schools had been put at the forefront of the agenda

When the academic year began in the autumn of 2017, the political landscape for education was still being shaped by the indecisive outcome of the general election. The lack of a parliamentary majority meant that there would be no bold initiatives or major changes. The all-consuming question of Brexit also added to the sense of ordinary business being put on hold. So, for the first time in many years, the autumn began without an education secretary delivering a raft of new measures for schools. It was a new academic year with no new school legislation. And in terms of political concern over education, the most pressing issue was in universities, with the promise of a major review of tuition fees. That did not mean that the then- education secretary Justine Greening

of funding and removing historic anomalies in local budget levels.



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