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Teachers welcome £140m school improvement fund, but demand more details

Teachers have welcomed the government announcement that £190m will be spent on school improvement, but have raised concerns that a new £140m ‘strategic school improvement fund’ will detract from schools’ key work.

The education secretary Justine Greening announced that two funds will be poured into schools: a £50m fund to help local authorities monitor and improve low-performing maintained schools, and a £140m ‘strategic school improvement fund’ targeted at schools most in need of support to drive up standards.

“I want this investment to not only transform outcomes for children by improving schools, but also to make sure our school-led system learns from that work. That is why the Education Endowment Foundation has a key role to play in this project,” said Greening.

“It’s vital that we now pull these two aspects together to get the maximum impact for children and schools.”

However, there has been concern that the £140m fund will not be distributed fairly as the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) called upon the DfE to ensure that additional burdens are not placed on schools in having to bid for it.

Malcome Trobe, interim general secretary of ASCL, said that it was transitional funding delivered as the government seeks to move towards its desired all-academy system where school leaders, not councils, are responsible for school improvement.

Leora Cruddas, the association’s director of policy was more sanguine, said that ASCL looked forward to hearing more about how the £140m fund will be distributed.

“We welcome this investment as school improvement services play an important role in helping schools to overcome challenges and to raise standards,” she added. “We look forward to hearing further details about how the £140m strategic school improvement fund will be distributed.

“It is very important that the system for allocating this money ensures that support is given to the schools which have the greatest need. It is therefore essential that school leaders are consulted on the best way to utilise this funding.”

The LGA had previously called for the government to reverse its planned £600m cut to the Education Standards Grant (ESG) next September, saying that it would decimate councils’ ability to pay for school improvement.

Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said before the Autumn Statement: “We do not believe there is capacity within the system to withdraw funding and powers for councils to support school improvement and hold schools to account in August 2017 as currently planned by the government.”

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