No new funding in mini-budget, exam grade protections continued, recruitment crisis deepens, SEN funding warnings issued – catch up on the top news stories from this past month



Alarm bells ring for education under new PM

  • Dismay and horror were the feelings of many in education as the new government’s ‘mini-budget’ this month gave no new money to education. They have ‘given away billions of pounds to promote growth, but not a penny for education, where not only is growth presumably deemed to be unimportant but so is maintaining current provision’, said ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton. ‘Without urgent financial support from the government, it is likely that there will be deep cuts to provision and the risk of a decline in educational standards.’ Meanwhile, plans pledged by new prime minister Liz Truss’ plans to bring back more grammar schools also met with concern. Chief Executive of the Education Endowment (EEF) Foundation Professor Becky Frances told government to ‘focus on evidence not ideology’. This month saw the EEF awarded a new £137m grant to help improve school attainment. Ms Truss’ appointed chair of the Social Mobility Commission, Katharine Birbalsingh, also warned her that grammar schools often disadvantage the disadvantaged – as pupils from these families rarely have the resources to prepare their child to win a grammar school place. Meanwhile, Ms Truss delayed progress of the new Schools Bill while she reviews all current reforms.


Exam grades continue to be protected, says Ofqual

  • As exam grading move back to the pre-pandemic system, there will still be ‘protections’ in place to ensure the first groups of students taking the reformed exams are not disadvantaged, promised Ofqual chief Dr Jo Saxton. This includes exam aids such as formulae and equation sheets remaining in GCSE maths, physics and combined science. The regulatory body then expects the system to return to normal from 2024. ASCL Director of Policy Julie McCulloch said this ‘safety net’ on grades was ‘a sensible balance between stepping back to normality while ensuring that students affected by Covid disruption are not detrimentally affected’.


Teacher recruitment woes ramped up

  • New figures on initial teacher training applicants has revealed that the DfE is more than 30% off target, foretelling more trouble ahead for school recruitment. ‘After years of successive governments and numerous education secretaries, conditions, pay and school funding have so deteriorated that it is now one that many graduates are choosing not to enter or those currently teaching are choosing to leave,’ said NEU Joint General Secretary Mary Bousted. Her union joined forces with the NAHT and ASCL to set out the impact of teacher and funding shortages on the profession. Meanwhile, analysis of school support staff jobs showed that vacancies have almost doubled compared with before the pandemic.  In other research, the NFER revealed that teachers in secondary schools were more likely to quit than their colleagues in Welsh schools.


SEN funding warning issued

  • A number of councils in receipt of ‘safety valve’ bailouts to plug funding gaps in their special education needs (SEN) provision are warning they may fail to meet the funding conditions. In some cases, councils were given nearly £100m to eliminate their deficit, in exchange for a commitment to reform their provision so that it became more ‘sustainable’.


New NTP pilot to track impact

  • A new dashboard-data-analysis system is being piloted by ImpactEd to track how the National Tutoring Programme is affecting pupil attainment, attendance and wellbeing.



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