Sugar tax will give schools £260,000 for longer hours

Sugar tax will give schools £260,000 for longer hours

Secondary schools will be able to pocket an extra £265,000 if they commit to providing at least five hours of extra-curricular activities a week.

Chancellor George Osborne says funds raised through a new “sugar tax” – a levy on soft drink providers – would be invested in out-of-hours school activities.

The Treasury expects to raise £1.2 billion from the levy over two years from April 2018. From September 2017, the Chancellor said the government will invest up to £285 million a year in the extended day programme for a quarter of secondary schools, double the primary school PE premium to £320 million a year, and give £10 million to up to 1,600 schools to provide breakfast clubs.

However, detailed breakdown of the expected costs show this funding will amount to much less than Mr Osborne announced.

The cash will be phased over three years, with £660 million available for the extended day programme – amounting to £220 million a year.

A government spokesperson said the Department for Education (DfE) will provide clearer detail about the extended day policy over the next week.

Schools Week estimates, if a quarter of the 3,329 secondary schools received a share of the £220 million, they should expect to receive £264,423 each.

Education Endowment Foundation research shows longer days cost a school £273 per pupil per year.

The move has received cautiously positive responses from the sector.

Micon Metcalfe (pictured), business manager at Dunraven School, south London, said schools could provide extra-curricular activities for the amount proposed, but it would require some imagination. She estimated it would cost her school £304,000 to add an extra hour each day.

“You obviously won’t be able to get 1,000 kids doing sport all at the same time at the end of the day. So it might mean schools have to think about restructuring their whole timetable to be able to accommodate it.

“And you have to question whether it is viable without adding on to teachers’ workload. Perhaps it would work by guaranteeing teachers they will still teach 25 lessons, but work until 4.15pm, and then paying someone who isn’t a teacher to provide the extra-curricular activities.”

It is understood that to be eligible for the cash, schools will have to offer at least an extra five hours of sport or arts each week. A number of secondary schools already provide an extended day, and bidding for the funding will be open to all schools.

The Labour government handed out
£2 billion between 2006 and 2011 for a similar scheme. Evaluation of the project showed extra-curricular activities were of most benefit to disadvantaged pupils and had the most impact on those pupils’ attainment.

The government’s pledge to provide wraparound childcare to the end of key stage 3 will not be affected by the extended day policy.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “Any expansion of hours must be properly funded, as school budgets are extremely tight. As long as this remains at the discretion of schools to meet the needs of their pupils, then it seems positive.

“The idea that most schools shut at 3.30pm is itself pretty outdated, but we have no problem with extra money to help them in the activities they offer.”

However, Malcom Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was “divisive” to only offer the funding to a quarter of schools: “Many already provide after-school activities so we also need to understand how this new provision will be differentiated from the existing provision and what will be expected of schools.”

Primary schools are in line to receive up to £19,000 a year from next September to continue providing PE lessons. In 2014, DfE research showed the funding had led to improvements in health, behaviour and lifestyle for 90 per cent of pupils.

The £10 million breakfast club funding will give 1,600 schools about £30 a day to feed pupils. At a one-form entry primary school, this equates to 15p per pupil.