Small educational benefits for Scotland in Chancellor's new budget

28th May 2010 at 01:00

Scotland will see some benefits from small increases in educational funding for England, announced by Chancellor George Osborne as part of his pound;6.2 billion reductions in public spending this year. But that will be offset against the Edinburgh Government's share of these cuts.

Mr Osborne announced a pound;150 million increase for adult apprenticeships to create up to 50,000 new places and an extra pound;50 million to renew up to 50 further education college buildings (bringing the total to pound;150 million once private investment is added).

David Laws, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, confirmed that the devolved administrations will receive their share of additional spending, but set against the savings they will be forced to make - pound;332 million in the case of Scotland. John Swinney, Finance Secretary, has already taken the controversial decision to put off these savings north of the border until 2011-12.

Mr Osborne also revealed what he said was an unexpected decision to protect schools, Sure Start centres for the youngest children and 16-19 education this year.

Universities in England did not fare so well, taking a pound;200 million hit on top of the pound;1 billion cuts in higher education announced by the previous UK Government. Insiders said it was not yet clear whether this would affect Scottish universities.

One of the most high-profile casualties of the new age of austerity is the closure of the Government's ICT agency, the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta), which will save pound;80 million. Other educational quangos in England will be expected to make savings, but the anticipated axing of the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency did not materialise.

In the Queen's Speech, two items of legislation affecting schools in England were announced. An Academies Bill will allow all schools to become academies, which are state-funded but independently-run. Primary and special schools will be eligible to apply for the first time, which means they will receive 10 to 12 per cent in additional funding.

There will also be an Education and Children's Bill, again affecting England only, which will give schools greater freedom over a "slimmer curriculum", introduce a "pupil premium" giving more money to the poorest youngsters, establish reading tests for six-year-olds and give headteachers more powers to improve behaviour.

The Westminster Government also plans to reform national pay and conditions for teachers, allowing schools more autonomy over what they pay their teachers.

neil.munro@tes.co.uk.

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