Councils call for Education Services Grant cut to be reversed

Media release - 12 December 2016

School improvement may stall unless central government reverses its decision to cut £600 million from councils' Education Services Grant, council leaders warned today.

The Government's ‘Education Excellence Everywhere' White Paper set out plans for the Grant to end for schools in 2017. With councils historically having to top up this annual grant to around £815 million each year, the proposed reduction in funding could have a serious negative effect on children's education.

Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the Local Government Association's Children and Young People Board, said:

"Councils across the country are talking to their school forums right now, planning their budgets for next year and it is looking bleak. Government has told councils that they can only expect to receive £50 million next year to carry out the exact same duties that normally cost them up to £815 million annually. Government should use the upcoming Local Government Finance Settlement to reverse this funding reduction.

"Only this month, Ofsted found that 89 per cent of council-maintained schools are now rated as either good or outstanding. Inspectors also recognised the increase in school performance overall across the country was a direct result of the number of council-maintained primary schools improving during 2015/16. This hard work and future planning cannot be put at risk."

As well as allowing councils to work closely with their local schools to improve where necessary, the grant also helps ensure children are well supported with speech therapy, physiotherapy and good attainment. It also allows councils to plan ahead for more school places and run criminal checks before recruiting staff.

While councils fully support a school-led improvement system and recognise the great work of Teaching School Alliances, Multi-Academy Trusts and Regional Schools Commissioners, right now, such support isn't in place everywhere.

Cllr Watts continued:

"Councils' track record of helping to improve schools with their local knowledge, expertise and democratic oversight cannot be ignored. With the majority of secondary schools now academies, Ofsted has also found that more work needs to be done to improve these schools, especially in Northern parts of the country and in the Midlands.

"Councils are key to unlocking that improvement. Allowing them to intervene early and use their vast experience would help these schools to deliver the high quality education that all of our children deserve."

9 December 2016

Contact

Lynne Morris
0207 664 3333
lynne.morris@local.gov.uk