Education needs a ten-year funding plan like the one drawn up for the NHS, the chair of the parliamentary education committee has said.
Writing in Schools Week, Robert Halfon (pictured), a former education minister and Conservative Party deputy chairman, said it was “inexplicable and astonishing” that the health service can have a ten-year funding and strategic plan but the education sector does not.
The senior Tory MP and former aide to George Osborne also said his committee is seeking to replicate in the education community the lobbying role played in the health sector by NHS England, amid concerns that schools don’t have access to an “independent body trusted by the public” to represent them.
It is inexplicable and astonishing that the health service can have a ten-year funding and strategic plan but the education sector does not
Further details of a more than £20 billion additional annual funding package for the NHS were announced in the chancellor’s Budget on Monday, but headteachers were left reeling when only a £400 million one-off capital bonus was pledged for schools.
In his article, Halfon said the chancellor’s description of the money as being for “little extras” is “only the latest example of the Department for Education’s initiative-it is, a piecemeal approach to spending, handing out a few hundred million here and there”.
“It is inexplicable and astonishing that the health service can have a ten-year funding and strategic plan but the education sector does not,” he said.
“It is imperative that government starts to think more long-term and banish the idea that Treasury processes should be the primary drivers for education funding.”
He said the health service had NHS England to “fight its corner with ministers”, but warned that schools and colleges “do not have the luxury of an independent body trusted by the public to make its case for the funding the system so desperately needs”.
“The commons education select committee is taking on this role,” he said.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, welcomed the committee’s focus on the issue while the sector feels “utterly beleaguered by the impact of real-terms cuts”.
“We believe it should be based on a clear understanding of what it costs to educate a child in each phase of education, with a mechanism in place to ensure that the per-pupil allocation rises in line with inflationary and other cost pressures.”