On 22 November 2017, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, revealed the government’s key policy changes which will affect the Education sector over the next year. The government has committed to introducing a maths premium, a new National Centre for Computing, plus more.

So, what was mentioned?

Money for maths

During the Education section of his speech, Mr Hammond announced that there will be:

  • An expansion for the Teaching for Mastery of Maths programme to a further 3,000 schools
  • £40 million to train maths teachers across the country.
  • A £600 Maths Premium for schools for every additional pupil who takes A-level or core maths.
  • Proposals for new maths specialist schools across England.

Cash for computing

Mr Hammond highlighted the need to develop computing skills in young people and has, therefore, pledged:

  • A commitment that every secondary school pupil can study computing by tripling the number of trained computer science teachers to 12,000.
  • To work with the industry to create a new National Centre for Computing.

Treasure for training

It was announced that, over the next three years, there will be:

  • £42 million made available to provide extra training to “improve the quality of teaching” in a pilot project in some under-performing schools in England; and
  • In the selected schools, each teacher will have access to £1,000 worth of training.

Funds for FE

The DfE’s T-level action plan aims for new qualifications in digital, construction, and education and childcare, to be taught from 2020, with a full set of T-levels being introduced by 2022.

Today, Mr Hammond pledged:

  • £20 million to be issued to FE colleges in order to help prepare them for the introduction of T-levels.

Dosh for digital skills

In his speech, Mr Hammond highlighted the need to develop digital skills distance learning courses in adults and has, therefore, committed £30 million of the budget to invest in this.

Study into STEM

During the speech, plans were announced to tackle the fact that “girls are disproportionately less likely to study STEM subjects at A-level, hindering progress into higher education and careers in STEM”.

In order to solve this issue, Mr Hammond announced that the government will explore how to improve the accessibility and transparency of data on this issue by institution and subject, in order to deepen the understanding of the gender disparity in subject choices at age 16.

What wasn’t mentioned?

No comment on cuts

Earlier this year, Mr Hammond praised Education Secretary Justine Greening for reallocating £1.3 billion of DfE spending into school budgets, and many were hopeful that additional funding would be released in the Autumn budget to help with real-term cuts facing schools with the introduction of the national funding formula.

Headteachers claimed that an extra £2 billion a year is needed just to get schools back up to 2015/2016 funding levels, with the Confederation of British Industry echoing the call for more investment in education.

During the speech earlier today, the longed-for additional funding for schools was not promised– in fact, the subject didn’t even get a mention, leaving some school leaders fearing the worst.

Pay not promised

Earlier this month, the heads of six major education unions joined forces to demand a five percent pay rise for teachers, hoping to see cash allocated to schools so that they can award a larger pay rise.

Much anticipated information on teacher pay rises was omitted in the speech today, indicating that The Treasury will not be planning on lifting the one percent cap.

Nonetheless, there might be a small light at the end of the tunnel, as Ms Greening has announced that she will write to the body that makes recommendations on teacher pay rises “shortly”.

Every year, the School Teachers Review Body receives a “remit letter” from the Education Secretary, setting out how large a pay-rise it can recommend.

The Treasury now says that Ms Greening and other members “will be able to consider appropriate pay awards depending on workforce needs and resources” – we wait with baited breath.

No mention on mental health

Recently, there has been a growing call on the Chancellor to ensure that mental health funding is given a boost in order to meet the Prime Minister’s ambition of tackling the “burning injustices” of poor access to help when people need it.

The need for fairer funding for mental health services within the NHS is now widely known, as mental health care accounts for about 12 percent of NHS spending, yet, mental ill health represents about 23 percent of need.

Children’s mental health in particular has long been under-funded, resulting in serious shortages and long delays for parents and young people trying to get help.

With no additional funding allocated to schools in today’s budget, it is feared that mental health provisions may dwindle further as schools try to claw back any additional spending.

In his speech today, Mr Hammond did set out plans to invest an extra £2.8 billion in the NHS by the end of 2019/2020, but how much of this will actually go towards mental health provisions for young people, we do not know.

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