Plymouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for Education Councillor Jon Taylor has reacted angrily to the news that the government has closed a flagship school improvement programme, without spending £84 million of the money it initially allocated to the fund. He said: “I’m extremely concerned that the School Improvement Fund is being stopped so suddenly when clearly there are funds available to support local areas and groups of schools with the necessary improvements.
“Plymouth did benefit from this improvement funding although not as much as we hoped and despite our best efforts we have not benefitted from other strands of DFE funding. No group in Plymouth received money from the latest round of bids and until 2020 our schools remain amongst the least well-funded in the country.
“We can see that poorly funded schools and massively reduced local authority budgets have limited the ability to analyse, coordinate and address under performance. Fewer than 50 per cent of our secondary schools are judged good or better by Ofsted and too many children do not achieve as well as their counterparts in other parts of the country. We were reliant on the targeted, additional funding to help us with our challenges and this removal seems arbitrary and unexplained.
“The fact that this announcement seems to have been slipped through the net while the Government is on recess is equally baffling as it is not going to receive the proper parliamentary scrutiny that it should. I will be bringing this matter to the attention of Cabinet next week (Tuesday 14 August) as right now we just don’t see how we can make the huge improvements required in our education system when the money you might expect to innovate hasn’t been forthcoming. We need to recruit more outstanding teachers and school leaders, we need to understand what works and implement that, we need to coordinate a really fragmented system. The Strategic School Improvement fund was meant to be there to support improvement yet we can see most of it has not been spent.”