The plan by Boris Johnson for the state to spend at least £5,000 on every secondary school pupil in England was made in a pledge during his leadership campaign. He stated that the intention to “level up” Britain’s education system was his first domestic policy proposal during the Conservative Party leadership election.
It would increase the income of many schools by 19% at a stroke.
Mr Johnson said that he wanted to reverse cuts to schools that had been a fundamental part of the previous administration’s policy and correct the “yawning funding gap” between pupils in London and the rest of the country.
His specific pledge, made in a Daily Telegraph article, was that, “It is simply not sustainable that funding per pupil should be £6,800 in parts of London and £4,200 in some other parts of the country.”
The importance of the issue was further highlighted by the announcements this summer that more schools would be shutting early on Friday because of a shortage of staff.
Of course we have no way of knowing how Mr Johnson will react now he is in power, but the education lobby is a powerful one and there is going to be a lot of noise if Mr Johnson doesn’t keep to this promise, no matter what the distractions arise from leaving the European Union.
This particular plan to raise funding for the majority of schools is a particularly powerful and helpful one for any company that sells into the education market, because it is based on a fee per pupil or student. With the number of young people in schools rising all the time, and destined to rise for at least another five years, it is a major commitment to education.
It is also an interesting policy because it can be enacted at the push of a computer keyboard and a signature on a piece of paper. There is no research to be done to look into disadvantage or other issues, it doesn’t have to go through Parliament. It is a simple plan.
Yet the implementation of this one promise made during his election campaign will totally change the education market place. For part of the problem facing schools is that there is a national shortage of teachers – something that does not affect schools evenly.
Those schools that are affected simply can’t recruit teachers, but will of course get the extra money (because the payments are based on pupil numbers) – and will spend it on teaching materials, teaching processes, and infrastructure.
Of course, some schools will spend the extra £1000 or so per pupil or student on teachers, but since there is already an overwhelming shortage of teachers then the money will go on goods, services, and, in particular, alternative methods of teaching via IT.
It could be an interesting time for us all.
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