Budget 2017: The 5 things schools need to know

Budget 2017: The 5 things schools need to know

The chancellor Philip Hammond has unveiled his spring budget in the House of Commons today.

Most of the education announcements were released in advance, so there were few surprises for the schools community. As expected, there was no new cash to help schools struggling with budget pressures.

Here is a round-up of the main points which affect schools…

1. £320 million for new free schools

This funding will be used to open 30 free schools between now and September 2020, and a further 110 in the next parliament.

The government expects some of these to be selective, but this will depend on whether they can lift the ban on new grammar schools.

The money will be spread over the next few years, with £20 million spent in 2017-18, £30 million in 2018-19, £50 million in 2019-20 and £280 million in 2020-21.

This totals £380 million, but some of it is set aside for the devolved nations under the Barnet formula.

2. £216 million for school infrastructure

The government will spend this money on repairing and updating school buildings, and the chancellor says this forms part of its plans to spend £10 billion on upgrading schools in this parliament.

In 2015-16, the Department for Education spent £4.5 billion in capital funding, and the National Audit Office has predicted that it will take a further £6.7 billion investment to bring all schools up to scratch.

This money will be allocated over two years, with half spent in 2018-19, and the other half in 2019-20. For some context – £216 million works out at around £9,000 per school.

3. £1bn for school sports, despite shortfall in sugar tax revenue

The Treasury will honour its commitment to give the Department for Education £1bn over the rest of this parliament to spend on sports activities and facilities.

This announcement comes despite the fact the government has admitted it will receive less than it predicted from the soft drinks industry levy after manufacturers reduced the sugar content in some products. Ministers had said it would raise £520 million a year.

But Schools Week revealed that the government had

It also comes after the government admitted it had shelved a plan to spend £285 million on funding longer days at secondary schools. Instead this cash will go towards capital funding for new sports facilities.

4. £20 million for free transport to grammar schools

An existing entitlement to free transport for pupils eligible for free school meals, or whose parents claim the maximum working tax credit payments, will be extended to cover selective schools, as announced by the government yesterday.

The Treasury has announced today that it is allocating £20 million towards this pledge, spread across four years starting from 2018-19. (Although, again, some of this may be set aside for the devolved nations under the Barnet formula)

The move brings grammar schools into line with faith schools in terms of free transport entitlement, but has been criticised for prioritising selective schools over other state schools.

5. £500 million a year for post-16 skills reform

From 2019, additional money will go towards increasing the amount of training 16 to 19-year-olds receive on technical courses to more than 900 hours a year. You can read more about this here.