Ofsted comments on school funding removed from government website

Janet Downs's picture

Ofsted chief, Amanda Spielman, published a ‘commentary on school funding’ this morning.  But the blog, potentially embarrassing for the government, has now been removed from the government's website.

Fortunately, I saved a copy.  Here are the main headings:

‘School funding is not historically low, but has decreased in recent years, and costs have risen’*

‘Schools feel squeezed and see funding as a major issue’

‘SEND provision is being squeezed’

‘Curriculum breadth and quality of education may be coming under pressure’

‘How staffing cuts are affecting schools’

Ofsted found some schools were not replacing subject specialists.   ‘Other teachers were teaching outside their specialism’.  ‘Less-experienced or lower-qualified staff’ were replacing experienced teachers.   Professional development was being reduced.  ‘Teaching and learning responsibility points’ were being removed.  ‘Higher level teaching assistants’ were covering classes of absent teachers instead of employing supply teachers.

Rising workload may lead to retention problems

Attainment is being maintained, however**

Although we found evidence of good financial decision-making, this was not always the case

Some schools and trusts had ‘insufficient monitoring’ of support and education quality offered to the most vulnerable pupils.  Some schools are worsening the situation for SEND pupils and ‘contributing to the fragmentation of local provision’.

Schools Week, which also summarises Spielman’s comments, says they were published ‘erroneously’.  An amended version should appear ‘in the coming weeks’.

It will be interesting to compare version 2 of the blog with version 1.

UPDATE; 21 February 14.50  The blog has now been re-released together with research.  Schools Week has summarised ten findings from the research here.  The DfE has dismissed the findings on the grounds that the sample of 235 schools was too small and unrepresentative.      There are 24,323 state schools in England (latest figures here).  Perhaps someone with more knowledge than I have about statistics could confirm this or not.  But the DfE's dismissal raises the question about what the DfE would have said if the research had found few problems arising from funding.  A cynic might say the DfE would have accepted them, small sample or not.


*Funding compared with 2003/4 figures.

**For academic subjects.  Although Ofsted had concerns over a narrowed curriculum, its assessment of attainment refers only to the academic.  Mixed messages.

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agov's picture
Thu, 20/02/2020 - 09:39

"Fortunately, I saved a copy."

Well done Janet.

I loved the "“few school leaders carefully monitor the impacts of their responses to financial pressure” bit! They must have large budgets to do that so presumably she must be talking of London.

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