Boris Johnson to unveil pupil funding plan during school visit

Boris Johnson will visit a school on Monday to boast about delivering a year-on-year increase in per-pupil funding – which Labour says will still leave schools worse off than a decade ago.

The prime minister made boosting education funding a manifesto pledge last year, after school cuts were a significant issue in the 2017 general election.

Confirming the second year of a three-year settlement, the government is to announce that each secondary school will attract a minimum of £5,150 per pupil and each primary a minimum of £4,000 under the national funding formula from 2021.

In remarks released before his visit to a school in the south-east, Johnson said: “Every child deserves a superb education – regardless of which school they attend, or where they happened to grow up.

“That is why we are providing additional funding now and for the future for every school – with those historically underfunded receiving the greatest increase.”

But shadow education secretary Kate Green pointed to research by thinktank the Institute for Fiscal Studies, showing Conservative plans will still leave schools worse off in 2022-23 than when the coalition government came to power in 2010.

Green said: “Additional funding for schools is necessary and welcome, but it was this Conservative government that cut school budgets for the first time in a generation, and only began to provide additional investment due to tireless campaigning from parents, school staff, and the Labour party.”

The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, is also announcing more details of the £1bn catch-up fund to help students who have missed out on months of classroom teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The prime minister promised a “big summer catch-up” last month, as pressure mounted on the government over the failure to get all pupils back into schools.

However, the first payment will only be made in the autumn term, with subsequent payments in the other two terms of the 2020-21 academic year.

They will be set at £80 per pupil, so that a 1,000-pupil secondary school will receive £80,000, and a 200-pupil primary school £16,000. Headteachers will be encouraged to spend it on one-to-one help for struggling students.

Separately, the National Tutoring Programme will allow schools to access subsidised tutoring from the second half of the autumn term for disadvantaged children.

Another scheme will also help some of the most disadvantaged schools to recruit academic mentors to give one-to-one support to struggling children, in association with the charity Teach First.

Schools will have to fund the national insurance and other employment costs of the mentors from their catch-up funding.

Teach First chief executive, Russell Hobby, said: “We’re honoured to join the National Tutoring Programme and kick off recruitment of the first wave of academic mentors. Their salaries will be funded for schools and evidence shows that by working under the direction of experienced teachers they can be precisely deployed to support the children who need them most.”


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