So we’re here and The Comprehensive Spending Review has been announced. See the full text version of George Osborne’s speech here or watch and listen here. As we all dig deep and try to understand the true impact of this on Schools and Educational ICT, we thought it might be helpful to summarise and draw together different perspectives for you.
Here are some education relevant extracts from the speech:
“Administration will be cut by £400 million, 24 quangos will go, lower-priority programmes such as Train to Gain will be abolished, and adult learners and employers will have to contribute more to further education.
Today I can announce the largest ever financial investment in adult apprenticeships-an increase of more than 50% on the previous Government’s provision, helping 75,000 new apprentices a year by the end of this spending review period.
There will be a real increase in the money for schools, not just next year or the year after, as the previous Government once promised, but for each of the next four years.
The schools budget will rise from £35 billion to £39 billion. Even as pupil numbers greatly increase, we will ensure that the cash funding per pupil does not fall. We will also sweep away all the different ways in which money is ring-fenced so that schools can decide how to spend their money as they think best.
We will also introduce a new £2.5 billion pupil premium, which supports the education of disadvantaged children and will provide a real incentive for good schools to take pupils from poorer backgrounds.
Parents, teachers and community groups will be supported if they wish to establish free schools. We will fund an increase in places for 16 to 19-year-olds, and raise the participation age to 18 by the end of the Parliament. That enables us to replace education maintenance allowances with more targeted support.
Overall, the Department for Education will be required to find resource savings of only 1% a year. Central administration will be cut by a third and five quangos will go. The capital budget will, as we know, have to bear its share of the reductions, but as the House knows, we have had to phase out the hopelessly inefficient and over-committed Building Schools for the Future programme.
However, £15.8 billion will be spent to maintain the school estate and to rebuild and refurbish 600 schools. I repeat: the resource money for schools-the money that goes into the classroom-on the broadest definition, including all the main grants, will go up in real terms every year.”
Allegra Stratton, a political correspondent for the Guardian shared concerns for the teaching budget being hit with fears of up to 40,000 teachers losing their jobs across England.
“The Guardian has learned that the Department for Education is to have its budget cut by 3.4% in real terms, while its schools budget will be protected in real terms with a slight rise of 0.1%. They will also announce that the capital budget is to be cut by 60% – something widely expected after a summer in which the education secretary, Michael Gove, announced painful cutbacks to his portfolio by shelving the building schools for the future plan.
The settlement means 70% of the youth budget, which includes youth clubs and after-schools activities, will be cut. The teaching budget looks likely to be hit despite the ring-fencing of the schools budget at 0.1%, because departmental sources believe schools will not see any dividend once the funds are funnelled through the complex schools funding system.”
The Times has much to say on the potential impact of the spending review on education…
“Extra money has been found for schools over the next four years but this comes entirely in the form of additional funds for pupils from disadvantaged homes via a “pupil premium” of £2.5 billion.
The main formula for funding schools, based on numbers on the roll, has been frozen per pupil in cash terms until 2015, and so will in effect be cut by inflation.
It is only because total numbers of school-age children are projected to rise, particularly for primary schools, and thanks to extra money from the pupil premium, that the schools budget will rise from £35 billion to £39 billion — a real-terms increase of just 0.1 per cent each year.
Hence the main beneficiaries will be schools with a bigger proportion of deprived children and where there is population growth, particularly in towns or rural communities that missed out on deprivation funding targeted at inner cities.
Head teachers will be expected to make cumulative savings of £1 billion a year on items such as utility bills, equipment orders and other administrative costs. A freeze in teachers’ pay will also save a further £1.1 billion.
The squeeze on school budgets will be most evident in sixth forms, as funding per pupil will fail to accommodate the additional costs of raising the school leaving age to 18.
Grants of between £10 and £30 a week paid directly to students from low-income families to encourage them to stay on at school or college, known as Education Maintenance Allowances, will also be scrapped, saving £500 million.
Specialist schools, one of Tony Blair’s key education reforms to encourage diversity and academic specialisms among secondary schools, such as in sciences or languages, may continue but will no longer receive separate funding or require accreditation.
Overall the Department for Education’s budget will fall from £58.4 billion to £57.2 billion, mainly arising from big cuts in administration and the scrapping of five quangos. Ofsted, the schools inspection body, will have its budgets cut from £186 million to £143 million as its focus is slimmed to fewer targets concentrated on teaching and learning.”
The BBC has a blow by blow account – and here is their analysis for education – within it there are comments from opposition politicians, unions and teachers – mainly negative. They also reflect on the impact of the cuts to local authorities and the adverse impact these cuts will have on the services that they provide to schools and the communities they serve.
So overall, in real terms, many schools will be waking to a future with lower levels of funding. Senior leaders and school governors will be looking closely at how they can make savings without cutting their front line staff. The ring fenced Harnessing Technology budget, raided in-year to support other initiatives is axed. Specialist schools were not immune and their additional funding has gone too. There are severe cuts in capital expenditure although there is funding for some new builds, refurbishments and remodelling. Apparently 600 schools will benefit from a £15.8 billion fund – this equates to just over £26 million per school, less than under BSF, and with little indication yet as to how the funding will be managed or how/if the ICT costs will be factored in.
So is it all doom and gloom, or will these times of austerity and changes in Government policy positively impact our educational system?
From an educational ICT supplier perspective, organisations such as Microsoft and Synetrix have been investing in new technologies and services that help schools and local authorities do more with less.
So let’s take a look at some of the ways in which we’re helping schools and local authorities to reduce their costs and save their front line staff:
- Cloud based services. Our OPENHIVE learning platform is a fully hosted and managed service. By taking it outside of the school environment, we help schools reduce their expenditure on hardware, technical support and running costs – reducing the school’s bill on electricity both for the servers and the air conditioning needed to keep them cool.
- For Local Authorities, we remove the need for the locally managed server farms. Providing cloud based educational ICT services enables us to release new features and upgrades to schools faster without additional expenditure – the service grows with them. With this model we can support Local Authorities with their shared services agenda, by enabling them to support other LAs and reduce their own costs at the same time.
- Modular Pricing – OPENHIVE has 9 different modules that you can pick and choose from. Schools and Local Authorities only pay for the services they use on a per pupil, per module basis – getting the most out of any ICT spend.
- Integrating with Open Source and Free Apps. Open Source software and free cloud based apps are becoming increasingly popular in schools as a measure to reduce educational ICT. With OPENHIVE we have integrated Microsoft’s Live@edu services into our Platform giving schools the option to adopt cheaper email services for students and staff. We’ve also integrated MoodleDo our hosted version of the popular Open Source VLE, with OPENHIVE so schools can pick and mix services.
- Interactive white-boarding, video conferencing, instant messaging and desktop sharing are all available in OPENHIVE and are being used to support multi-campus learning and 14-19 initiatives, reducing the costs of travel and lowering the carbon footprint.
Whilst there is gloom, these times of austerity call upon us to work together to be creative. We have a smart bunch of people currently working with Local Authorities and schools to help them reduce the costs of their educational ICT. So drop us a line and let’s see how we can help you protect education and ride out these difficult times together.