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BUDGET CUTS The brave new world

Ray Barker from the British Educational Suppliers

Association gives his overview of the budget cuts that have hit education


T FEELS as though the earth has shifted since my last SecEd article, and I am not just talking about that volcano. We knew that change was a-coming after this historic election, but who could have suspected that we would see a Conservative-Lib Dem coalition? While you would need to have been

hiding under a rock for the last month in order to avoid the constant barrage of news about our new government, I thought it would be a good idea to highlight and reflect back on the changes that have already been made for secondary schools and teachers, and also to take a look at what else we can expect. First, we say goodbye to Ed Balls, Vernon Coaker

and the team, and a big hello to new secretary of state for education Michael Gove, minister for schools Nick Gibb, and minister for children and families Sarah Teather. As of May 12, the Department for Children, Schools

and Families no longer exists. In its place is the all-new Department for Education (DfE).

Tightening the purse strings

In the first round of budget cuts, it was unlikely that education would escape unscathed. However, George

Osborne has announced that schools and 16 to 19 spending would be protected in 2010/11. The DfE has been asked to make £670 million in

efficiency savings, and government quangos were the first to feel the pinch. Becta, the body responsible for promoting the use of technology in schools, and the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA) have been completely closed. The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) needs to save £30 million, the National College (formerly NCSL) £15 million, and the School Food Trust also sees its communications budget reduced by £1 million. Another £60 million is expected to be saved through

the removal of red tape surrounding the Diplomas and other vocational qualifications, while the DfE is expected to cut back on £11 million worth of operations such as IT and procurement.


In the newly announced Education Bill, secondary schools graded as outstanding could become academies and opt out of local authority control. With one in five secondary schools considered to be outstanding, we could see a significant proportion of schools make the change. All other schools will also be given the chance to become academies in the future too (see news pages). Furthermore, the “free schools” policy allows groups, like parents, to set up their own state-funded school without involving the local authority.

What is going to happen with BSF?

At this point in time, no definite, concrete decisions have been made by the DfE. However, the government is presently carrying out “reviews” of all the upcoming Building Schools for the Future projects to see which projects can be stopped and how to reprioritise them according to need.

Down the track

Later in the year the second education bill entitled the Education and Children’s Bill will roll out the plans for the pupil premium, a condensed curriculum – but one looking at the core subjects, especially literacy – Ofsted

Kent is bringing learning to life

reforms, and more power for headteachers to improve student behaviour. The highly publicised pupil

premium will see more money directed to schools with disadvantaged pupils to provide them with better resources and opportunities. While the curriculum is not due

to be announced until later in the year, the government has stated that a new curriculum would be “slimmer”. It aims to prescribe subject content such as covering key events in our past and works of literature but still aims to give schools more freedom to decide how to teach lessons. I am sure in the next

six months there will continue to be many changes to s e c o n d a r y education in the UK, and with more cuts away from the front line expected, we will all be waiting with baited breath. However, it is important

to remember that core school budgets have been protected until 2011, in an effort to protect funding for schools. BESA and its members have been

working very closely with schools to help them seek out high quality resources that provide best value when making procurement decisions, to fit specific school needs. Hopefully schools won’t feel the full effects of the public sector belt tightening and budgetary constraints in the classroom. SecEd

• Ray Barker is the director of the British Educational Suppliers Association. Visit


Great teachers know how to keep children from staring into space. They use their own imagination to engage with their students. At Kent, we encourage you to do exactly that. One of the largest authorities in the country, we offer a huge range of schools, subjects and age groups to choose between. You’ll also have plenty of opportunity to move around and share your passion and creativity - just one of the reasons 80% of people who teach in Kent stay in Kent. Visit

SecEd • June 10 2010


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