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DfE hands millions for scrapped school scheme back to Treasury

Heads say money should have been kept to help 'desperate' schools and Labour describes decision to hand back money as 'unbelievable'

grammar schools, transport, funding, gibb, rayner, treasury, dfe

Heads say money should have been kept to help 'desperate' schools and Labour describes decision to hand back money as 'unbelievable'

The government has come under fire for not reallocating millions of pounds to schools after scrapping a scheme to transport disadvantaged pupils to grammar schools.

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced the initiative in last year’s Spring Budget, saying it would extend free school transport to include all children on free school meals who attend a selective school.

However, schools minister Nick Gibb used an answer to a Labour written parliamentary question to this month reveal that the government had abandoned the plan.

He said: “As the department is not taking forward proposals to open new selective schools, we are not taking forward plans for free transport specifically for children who are eligible for free school meals who attend their nearest selective school.”

He added that “the £5.5 million allocated to this fund was therefore not retained by the department”.

That annual £5.5m was due to be paid for a total of four years.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, who tabled the question, said: “It’s incredible that the Tories ever thought this was a good use of taxpayers’ money at a time when they are breaking their promises to protect funding for all children.

“It is unbelievable that this money has now just been handed back to the Treasury rather than reinvested in schools that face the worst cuts in a generation.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told Tes the money should have been used to help address the “desperate situation” schools are facing.

He said: “It was a policy that was supposedly to improve education, in which case we strongly believe that that money should go back to education, particularly at a time when schools are desperate for any additional funding, rather than it being clawed back by the Treasury.

“It’s such a desperate situation out there that here was an opportunity for a government that had a relatively small amount of money to say ‘let’s put it where it belongs’, and that is firmly within education.”

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