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Friday, October 22, 2021

Johnson's levelling down agenda

Many of us had suspected that the so-called 'levelling up' agenda being mooted by Boris Johnson in an effort to retain red wall seats was nothing but flim-flam, and now evidence has emerged that gives some credence to that view.

The Independent says the cross-party Public Accounts Committee has found that government changes to education funding in England have redistributed cash from poorer areas to richer areas, with the new national funding formula cutting funding in the most deprived parts of the country by 1.2 per cent but increasing it by 2.9 per cent in the least deprived. They add that further cuts to pupil premium spending have also cut £90 million from the most disadvantaged children:

The findings come despite the government's rhetoric and repeated claims to be "levelling up" left-behind parts of the country.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said the redistribution "ensures resources are delivered where they are needed the most".

But the cross party group of MPs says ministers “failed to take enough account of the impact of its decisions on individual schools and their pupils” and that adverse effects are falling “disproportionately on deprived local areas and schools”.

Meg Hillier, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “Schools are facing a perfect storm of challenges with promises of teacher pay rises, per pupil funding changes and falling rolls but no clear plan from the Department for Education.

“Schools and pupils in deprived areas are being hit hardest by the funding formula at a time when the government’s commitment is to level up.

"Add to this the ongoing delays in the review of support for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities and some of the most vulnerable children are facing an uncertain future – on top of the impact of Covid.

Every part of government has faced challenges but the impact of the exam chaos, funding uncertainties and repeatedly delayed decisions is hitting young people hard and risks scarring their life chances.”

Time for the Tories to put their money where their mouth is.
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