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Author: whileuwereteaching

George Osborne: north-south divide in schools needs urgent attention

Former chancellor’s Northern Powerhouse Partnership calls on ministers to take action to close England’s education gap Ministers need to pay “urgent attention” to the growing north-south divide in England’s schools, George Osborne has said, as he warned of an alarming brain drain of graduates from the north. In the first report by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, which he chairs, the former chancellor said the region was at a crucial “turning point” and could fall further behind without appropriate action by ministers. Continue...

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Every child should have the right to a nursery education | Letters

Following the article by Sally Weale (What society gives their youngest less chance than their parents had?, 31 January), we were delighted to have the threat to maintained nursery schools (MNS) highlighted this week. Nursery schools’ greatest assets are their trained and dedicated staff, which includes qualified teachers (QTS), with expert knowledge of child development and learning. Qualified teachers are what really makes the difference between MNS and private childcare. This cannot be stressed enough. Furthermore, the new early years teacher status (which does not have QTS) provides a levelling down to the qualified teaching profession and is doing a disservice to the predominately female workforce in this field. MNS are under threat. We need public support to survive and we want to assert the right of every child in the country to benefit from nursery school education. Nursery schools do a fantastic job of “narrowing the gap” and effectively help the most disadvantaged under-fives, but we are also firmly based in our local communities and always wish to reflect their full diversity. Continue...

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Auditors flag increase in financially ‘unviable’ academy trusts

Auditors are increasingly raising the alarm about academy trusts at risk of running out of money, with chains raiding reserves and eyeing expansion to pay off deficits. A Schools Week analysis of annual accounts has revealed a prevailing picture of “unviable trusts”. The Rodillian Trust, which sponsors three schools in West Yorkshire, used more than £350,000 of its reserves to pay off a budget deficit last year. Recently released accounts for 2015-16 show auditors flagged a “material uncertainty” about its future viability. A similar judgment was issued to the Dominic Barberi Multi-Academy Company, which runs seven schools in Oxfordshire. Accounts show it already had received a £600,000 funding advance from the government, and said “continued support” was “fundamental to the company’s viability”. These figures are disturbing The government’s academies report for 2014-15, published last year, also revealed that the number of “emphasis of matter” opinions by auditors, highlighting financial concerns, rose nearly three-fold to 92 cases. A major benchmarking report by Kreston Reeves Group auditors, published last week, also found four in ten trusts posted a budget deficit last year. Robert Hill, an education consultant and former government policy adviser (pictured right), said: “These figures are disturbing, but it...

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Roll pupil premium into national funding formula, say experts

Key architects of the government’s new national funding formula have suggested the pupil premium could be rolled into core school funding before protection for it runs out in 2020. The government has pledged to keep the £2.5 billion pupil premium throughout this parliament. It gives additional funds of between £935 and £1,320 for every pupil eligible for free school meals, with additional grants for care leavers. But uncertainty over its future has prompted speculation it could be incorporated into the new national funding formula. Tom Goldman, the Department for Education’s director of funding, told MPs on Tuesday that placing pupil premium into the national funding formula was the easiest way to achieve one single deprivation measure by which to allocate funding. Economist Luke Sibieta, programme director for education at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, also gave evidence to the education select committee and said it would take “a matter of minutes” to make the pupil premium part of the national funding formula, adding he didn’t see much value in having “one factor with different values in different formulas”. At present, schools must publish their strategy for using the pupil premium on their website and can be audited for its...

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