Budget, November 2017

On Wednesday 22 November 2017 the Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered the autumn budget. It would have been unrealistic to expect Brexit not to dominate, which indeed it did, with £3bn set aside for Brexit preparations.

And, alongside other trade unions we had welcomed the extra £1.3 billion which the DfE agreed, earlier in the year, to reallocate from its existing budget.

But, only a fully funded education system, across all phases and subjects will deliver the opportunities and equality that our children and young people deserve. This budget continues to reflect the lack of worth and understanding the government gives to our subject, and its position and value to society, culture and the economic health of the UK through the creative industries.

Further to that, ignoring the creative industries sector, as opined by the Creative Industries Federation in their response, shows a naivety and lack of ambition for one of the great strengths in our economy.

The budget announced specific support for maths, (illustrating government perceptions of its crucial role in preparing the next generation for jobs in the new economy.) Although we welcome investment in maths, we are aware that alongside art and design, many other subjects are struggling with a devastating lack of resources, compromising the teaching and learning of those subjects and inevitably the life choices of children and young people.

The government state they will:
give more children the opportunity to be taught using world-leading techniques by providing £27 million to expand the successful Teaching for Mastery maths programme into a further 3,000 schools reward schools and colleges who support their students to study maths by giving them £600 for every extra pupil who decides to take Maths or Further Maths A levels or Core Maths – with over £80 million available initially, and no cap on numbers nurture top mathematical talent by delivering its commitment to open maths schools across the country. The Budget commits £18 million to fund an annual £350,000 for every maths school under the specialist maths school model, which includes outreach work test innovative approaches to improve GCSE Maths resit outcomes by launching a £8.5 million pilot, alongside £40 million to establish Further Education Centres of Excellence across the country to train maths teachers and spread best practice

Likewise an investment has been made in Computer Science:

Computer science – The Budget will ensure that every secondary school has a fully qualified computer science GCSE teacher, by committing £84 million to upskill 8,000 computer science teachers by the end of this Parliament. The government will also work with industry to set up a new National Centre for Computing to produce training material and support schools.

We could welcome any governmental concerns about gender disparity across subjects, boys are continually less likely to study art and design, but a focus only on STEM, not STEAM denies all children and young people the opportunity to engage with both arts and science subjects, and upholds a silo mentality.

The government state:

Gender disparity in STEM – Girls are disproportionately less likely to study most STEM subjects at A level, hindering progress into higher education and careers in STEM. To deepen the understanding of the gender disparity in subject choices at age 16, the government will explore how to improve the accessibility and transparency of data on this issue by institution and subject.

We welcome investment into high-quality professional development for teachers, will this include subject-specific professional development and will it include art and design?

Teacher Development Premium – The government will invest £42 million to pilot a Teacher Development Premium. This will test the impact of a £1,000 budget for high-quality professional development for teachers working in areas that have fallen behind. This will support the government’s ambition to address regional productivity disparities through reducing the regional skills gap.

We welcome the Cultural Development fund of £2 million via the DCMS for regeneration and local growth. But without joined-up thinking between the DCMS and DfE the increasing paucity of investment in our subject will only serve to further erode the skills pipeline that regeneration and local growth must rely on.

The Autumn Budget can be found at this here.

22 Nov 2017