A think-tank report examined educational inequality in England and made a range of recommendations, including for improvement in early years provision, for state boarding school places for disadvantaged children, for schools to share learning, for review of the criteria for targeting the pupil premium, for more free schools, and for changes in the further education system.
Source: Closing the Divide: Tackling educational inequality in England, Centre for Social Justice
The inspectorate for education and children's services said that school leaders were generally making effective use of the funding provided by the pupil premium, were tracking the progress of eligible pupils more closely, and were reporting outcomes more precisely than previously. However, the report said that it was too early to point to any significant narrowing of the gap nationally between more affluent and disadvantaged children.
Source: The Pupil Premium: An update, HMI 140088, Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills
The government began consultation on proposals to introduce an early years pupil premium for all disadvantaged three- and four-year-olds from April 2015, and to move to participation funding for the early education entitlement for two-year-olds from 2015- 16. The consultation would close on 22 August 2014.
Source: Early Years Pupil Premium and Funding for Two-Year-Olds, Department for Education
A report by a committee of MPs said that the Education Funding Agency needed to improve efficiency, transparency, and accountability in the education sector, especially in respect of the growing number of academies. The report acknowledged the context of budget cuts, and noted the difficulties the Department for Education had in reconciling different financial year ends, of clarifying ownership of academies' land and buildings, and of improving the data it received from academies. It said that the Agency needed better systems to provide more timely, accurate, and complete data, needed to improve its monitoring and enforcement of financial management in free schools and academies, and needed to respond to any evidence that may suggest conflicts of interests where academy trusts bought goods and services from individuals and organizations connected to their schools.
Source: Education Funding Agency and Department for Education Financial Statements, Sixty-first Report (2013-14), HC 1063, House of Commons Public Accounts Select Committee, TSO
The government began consultation on proposals to allocate an additional £350m to schools in 2015-16, to increase the per-pupil budgets for the some local areas and set a minimum funding level. The consultation invited views on how to set the minimum funding levels, and how to distribute the additional funding. The consultation would close on 30 April 2014.
Source: Fairer Schools Funding in 2015-16, Department for Education
The coalition government presented its 2014 Budget statement. National income growth forecasts had been revised upwards from 2.4 per cent to 2.7 per cent in 2014 and from 2.2 per cent to 2.3 per cent in 2015, with forecasts of 2.6 per cent in 2016, 2.6 per cent in 2017 and 2.5 per cent in 2018. The public sector net debt had been revised downwards, to peak at 78.7 per cent of national income in 2015-16 before falling year on year to 2018-19. The main Budget measures included:
Government departments required to find year on year efficiency savings, with cuts of £119 billion in 2015-16;
Welfare cap set at £119.5 billion for 2015-16 with year on year increases to 2018-19 (to be included in the Charter for Budget Responsibility);
Expansion of the Troubled Families programme in 2014-15;
Increase in childcare costs cap to £10,000 per annum per child, against which up to 20 per cent of costs could be claimed by parents, or 85 per cent if parents paid income tax and were on universal credit (this had been previously announced, but was confirmed in the Budget);
ï¿½ Additional early years premium funding for schools (this had been previously announced, but was confirmed in the Budget);
Increase in personal tax allowance to £10,500 from 2015 and increase in National Minimum Wage to £6.50 in October 2014;
ï¿½ New ISA provisions, with an increase in the annual limit to £15,000; new government savings bonds for over 65s; increased limits for Premium Savings Bonds; proposed removal of the requirement for defined contribution pension funds to be converted to annuities; and changes to taxation of pensions (a consultation paper on pensions was published alongside the Budget);
Doubling of the annual investment allowance for companies, changes to export funding, and additional funding for apprenticeships;
Energy-related measures, including: changes to the carbon price support cap; support for carbon capture and storage, oil, and gas initiatives; and compensation for energy costs for energy intensive industries;
Infrastructure measures, including: funding for repairs to flood defences and roads; government guarantee for the Mersey Gateway Bridge; funding via a gain share mechanism for Greater Cambridge transport and infrastructure proposals; and grants for cathedral repairs; and
ï¿½ Housing measures, including: extension of the Help to Buy equity loan scheme to March 2020; loans for smaller developers and a repayable funding scheme for self-build; loan funding for regeneration of large housing estates; and a new garden city at Ebbsfleet, Kent (this had been previously announced, but was confirmed in the Budget).
Source: Budget 2014, HC 1104, HM Treasury, TSO
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Links related to childcare and pupil premium announcements: Government consultation response | Written ministerial statement | Barnardos press release | Citizens Advice press release | CBI press release | Gingerbread press release | IFS comment | JRF press release | NCT press release | BBC report | Guardian report | New Statesman report | Telegraph report
The government began consultation on proposals to reduce the Education Services Grant for 2015-16. The consultation would close on 19 June 2014.
Source: Savings to the Education Services Grant for 2015-16, Department for Education
Links: Consultation document