Schools WILL receive more money, says Morgan, because they'll have more pupils. But per-pupil spending will go down.

Janet Downs's picture
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan is gaining a reputation for mishandling statistics. And this won’t be improved by her knowing the 12-times tables which, according, to Morgan, will push English children up the PISA rankings.

But the mishandling reached new levels of daftness on BBC’s Question Time on Thursday*.

Morgan was defending the cut in education funding in real terms under a future Tory Government. But schools WILL get more money, she said, because pupil numbers were rising. If a school had more children then it would get more money. Therefore, the amount of funding in that school would rise. It would have more money to spend.

But this ignores the fact that the money available to spend on each child will not rise. In real terms, it will fall.

Morgan wasn’t alone in making this silly statement. David Cameron said the same thing in his recent speech.

‘The cash sum that follows your child into the school will not be cut. Because the number of children going to school is going up, this has an implication that means that in cash terms the schools budget is going to be rising.’

He didn’t seem to realise he was contradicting another statement when he admitted per-pupil spending would go down.

So, don’t worry, parents. When your child’s school admits more children, class sizes rise and the amount spent on your child goes down, it won’t matter because your school’s budget will go up because, er, the school’s got more children.

*Watch it here (no time limit – the programme will remain in the archives for at least five years – programmes are available from 2010). The education question starts at 22.11 minutes into the programme.
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Henry Stewart's picture
Sun, 08/02/2015 - 12:23

So if a school is currently full, are Morgan and Cameron saying they will cram more children in? In my borough of Hackney every secondary except one - and most primaries - have full rolls. So the school budget will not go up unless they increase class sizes or fit more classes into existing buildings.

Cameron's wording, though is clever. His statement "in cash terms the schools budget is going to be rising" suggests individual school budgets will go up - but can be true even if there is no rise at all in budget in the vast majority of schools.

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 08/02/2015 - 12:57

And schools with falling rolls face a double whammy: lower budget and less per-pupil funding. This could lock them in a spiral of decline. Of course, if they're academies they could claim emergency funding. Schools Week found £12.6m of 'emergency' handouts was sent to 22 academies. Most of this funding does not have to be paid back.

Or maybe the start-up funding which seems to go on for ever.

All this fuels the suspicion that some schools are treated more favourably than others.

Andy V's picture
Sun, 08/02/2015 - 14:31

The comments relating to ring fenced but no increases being counter balanced by additional pupils can only serve to exemplify the deliberate shallow and thoroughly transparent disingenuity of our political leaders. It is so awful as to be culpably insulting to the electorate and damning of the intelligence of those in the profession. To say I was appalled doesn't come near it.

I was equally as disgusted by the vacuous performance of Tristram Hunt on Question time.

The mounting negative impacts building up within the profession leads me to have the most serious fears about the very real potential for a marked melt down / implosion facing schools.

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 09/02/2015 - 13:25

Ah, yes. Hunt's comments about nuns. He could have dealt with the comment from Cristina Odone about how wonderful her convent teachers were despite having no formal training by saying one anecdote from thirty, forty years ago can't be generalised. Teaching is an intellectual activity and needs proper teacher education like in Finland - five years to train to be a teacher - this training includes thorough grounding in teaching methods and theory.

Instead, he said something daft about the convent teachers being nuns. Own goal, I think.

Andy V's picture
Mon, 09/02/2015 - 13:40

If only it were his risible stance on the nun issue. His overall performance was less than dire. He completely ducked the issue of his private school education and having been taught by some who were not qualified teachers. He mumbled into his chin about the topic of free schools and academies. He made no attack Morgan and her use of stats. He failed to disabuse people of the wilfully false use of PISA and joining the international education hubris tables. He failed to address anything of substance.

He took appalling and dismal to new even lower levels.

He was the epitome of a career politician playing at shadow education secretary. Morgan does the same but, and I hate to say this, she does so with greater panache and confidence.

Michele -Lowe's picture
Sun, 08/02/2015 - 18:12

I do agree, Andy. From Nicky Morgan we got what we're used to, but I felt Tristram Hunt sank to the occasion. Then I found myself in the slightly uncomfortable position (for me) of agreeing with George Galloway, who was calling for decent education provision/funding for his constituency. Sigh!

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 09/02/2015 - 15:46

More obfuscation from Morgan. She's told the UK Statistics Watchdog she disagrees with his comment that a child with Level 3 CAN read, write and do sums. Morgan, if you remember, had said a third of children under Labour had left primary school unable to do these things because they hadn't reached Level 4.

But in her reply she's added the word 'properly' to her sentence.

That's not what she said originally, as FullFact points out.

In any case, 'properly' is subjective. If a child leaves primary able to read and write 'properly' because s/he's reached Level 4, can that child no longer read and write 'properly' if s/he doesn't get a 'good' GCSE grade?

She criticises the fact that children who enter secondary school with Level 3 don't achieved Grade C. But DfE target for such children is a D. You'd think a SoS would know that.

Adrian Elliott's picture
Mon, 09/02/2015 - 16:19

The inclusion of 'properly' reminds of the comment by the head of the Basic Skills Agency some years ago .who said,given time, he could prove every adult in Britain was 'functionally' illiterate!

Philip Collie's picture
Tue, 10/02/2015 - 10:46

The teachers pay deal last year awarded a 1% rise which, with the additional NI contributions and pensions liabilities (for non-teaching staff) amounts to more like 1.5%. Performance related pay puts pressure on schools to award at least this amount, since by not doing so implies that teachers' performance is somehow below what's expected, so this could put the average increase up to more like 2%. This alone leaves a shortfall across all schools of around £320 million. Then there's inflation which, at around 1% will 'cost' another £230 million, bringing the shortfall to £550 million.

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