The Commons education committee will investigate long-term education investment – especially whether colleges and schools are getting the money they need.
The influential group of MPs has launched an inquiry into whether a longer-term plan is needed for investment across education, including FE, and what resources are really needed.
MPs will look ahead to the government spending review process, which will determine the overall level of public funding for schools and colleges.
The inquiry will also look at the effectiveness of “targeted funding” such as the pupil premium, and how a new national funding formula will be implemented.
“Young people are in compulsory education for around 13 years, yet government only plans investment in education every three or four years,” said committee chair Robert Halfon.
“We need to move to a situation where education funding is not driven primarily by Treasury processes but rather by a long-term strategic assessment of our national priorities for education and skills.”
He warned that rising cost pressures faced by sixth-forms and FE colleges have led to “serious challenges” in the provision of high-quality education “which can be a key driver” for social justice and productivity.
“The spending review provides the government with an opportunity to help close the funding gap and it is vital this process is informed by the views of parents, teachers and pupils,” he added.
Some areas of public expenditure are informed by an overall target, whether it’s 0.7 per cent of gross national income on international aid or two per cent of gross domestic product on defence.
“Other areas are vocal about their level of need, such as in the case made for greater expenditure on health services,” said Mr Halfon. “I hope our inquiry will help give ordinary people a role in creating a 10-year vision for education investment.
“The prime minister recently signalled a new approach to funding the NHS; I hope the education committee can help to make the case for a similar plan for expenditure on our schools and colleges.”
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, threw his support behind the inquiry.
“We welcome the education committee’s inquiry into the level of funding for schools and colleges, which comes at a time of severe financial pressures caused by government under-investment in education,” he said.
“The funding crisis is putting hard-won education standards at risk and damaging social mobility. Our young people deserve better.”
“The comments made by the chair of the Education Committee are a breath of fresh air. We entirely agree that a longer term plan is needed for investment in education and have long been calling for such an approach. It cannot come soon enough.”
The committee has invited written submissions by May 30 on the following issues:
- What the Department for Education’s priorities should be for the next Spending Review period as they relate to schools and colleges
- Whether the spending review cycle is the best mechanism for determining overall expenditure on schools and colleges, and what that level should be
- The effectiveness of targeted funding such as the pupil premium, and its relationship to core education funding
- The practical implementation of the national funding formula