The Department for Education is working on the case for long-term plans for funding and strategy in education, MPs heard today.
Speaking at a Commons Education Select Committee hearing today, skills minister Anne Milton said that, following a five-year funding plan and a ten-year strategic plan for the NHS, there was “a very strong case” for the same to be done in education.
The government announced in June 2018 that it would give the NHS £20.5 billion over five years and asked NHS bodies to develop a 10-year strategic plan to unlock this funding. The long-term plan was published in January 2019.
Today, education committee chair Robert Halfon asked ministers why there were not similar long-term plans for education.
Ms Milton replied: “I think your point is well made. This is relatively new for the NHS and, therefore, it obviously raises questions about whether we should do the same for education. And, obviously, that is something the secretary of state is looking at, at the moment. If you look at correlation between education and health, which is very strong, there is a very good case to be made.”
Schools minister Nick Gibb agreed, saying: "There is a case for having a longer-term strategic plan in education as they have in health."
Pressed on why the Department for Education was not making a public case for such a strategy, Ms Milton said that: “I should imagine they were talking about and discussing it within the department for a year or so before made it was public and those sort of discussions are going on…and I think probably Nick and I would both agree with you that something like a five- or 10-year plan is exactly the sort of thing that I’m sure the secretary of state will be thinking about.”
The committee also heard from Mr Gibb that he thought all areas of education needed more money, with particular concerns around post-16 education and high-needs funding. But he would not be drawn on how much more money the school system should have.
There have been calls for a long-term funding plan for schools, with Angela Donkin, chief social scientist at the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER). saying that announcements of additional "little extras" for schools are “unpredictable and sporadic” and leave schools in a reactive position.