the 2018 budget - how will it affect education?

Back in October, Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered the 2018 budget update to the House of Commons, which told us the government’s plans for tax and spending for the next financial year which starts in April 2019.

Now that the dust has settled, we have looked into exactly what it means for the education sector moving forwards. Although some critics have argued that the budget has overlooked the education sector, we have summarised the key areas that it has addressed, including:
  • Maintenance of schools
  • Retention of teachers
  • Post-18 education

Money for maintenance.

The Chancellor announced that schools across England will receive an extra £400 million in capital funding, to provide them with funds to buy “the little extras they need”. So, this money is intended to be put towards capital projects like school equipment and maintenance, rather than revenue outlays such as staff salaries.

Of this £400 million, Hammond suggested that there would be an average payout of £10,000 per primary school, and £50,000 per secondary school. Provisions for early years education providers were not mentioned.

Plus, primary schools in rural locations should see a boost to their internet capabilities - the budget has allocated £200 million to deploy full fibre internet in rural areas, beginning with primary schools in the Borderlands, Cornwall and Welsh Valleys.

Retaining STEM teachers.

As we discovered in the Department for Education’s School Workforce Census in November 2017, due to a shortage of STEM teachers, 38% of physics teachers and 22% of maths teachers in our schools do not have any relevant post A Level qualifications in the subject. 

Clearly something needs to be done to help retain the maths and physics teachers who are already employed in our schools, whilst encouraging more to take up the profession. To help with this, the budget provides funding for a £10 million regional trial to test how to improve retention of early career maths and physics teachers. 

Teachers’ wages.

It was also announced that changes to income tax thresholds will come a year earlier than planned: the rate at which people will start paying income tax at 20% will rise from £11,850 to £12,500 in April, and at 40% from £46,350 to £50,000. This should provide a welcome boost to school staff across the UK.

School trips.

In addition to the extra funding for maintenance of the school buildings and faster internet, the budget has allowed for some extra cash to help with extra-curricular enrichment programmes. There will be £1 million provided to fund school trips to the World War One battlefields, and £1.7 million in Holocaust education programmes to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, in northern Germany.

Post-18 education.

The government will review the post-18 education and funding system in England, to ensure that all students are given a good choice between vocational and academic routes, in a system that is accessible to all students. This should benefit both students and employers: students will get value for money, whilst employers will be able to access the skilled workforce they need. 

As part of the review, the government will receive advice from an independent panel, chaired by leading author, Philip Augar. The panel will report to ministers at an interim stage before the government concludes the overall review.

Overall, the budget for the education sector has focused more on funding for ‘extras’ like building and maintenance work, than on staff retention and salaries. However, it will be interesting to see the outcome of the £10 million regional trial to test how to improve retention of early career maths and physics teachers. 

When you work with us at Randstad, we understand the importance of cost-effective recruitment in today’s climate. That’s why we not only provide you with teaching staff who are top of the class, but we can also advise you on making savings against your school’s budget. Get in touch for a confidential discussion with one of our specialist consultants today.

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