Education in England

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Education in England is overseen by the Department for Education (DfE). Local government authorities are responsible for implementing policy for public education and state-funded schools at a local level.

  • Struggling to get my head around this. See /Education-in-england.ods

Student Loans

See main article: Student Loans

Do a short intro paragraph here, but 99.999% of the meat should be in the main article.

Tuition Fees

  • Nov.22.2018: Less than half tuition fee is for teaching. Less than half of the £9,250-a-year tuition fee is spent on teaching on average; Most of the rest goes on student services such as buildings and welfare, bursaries, outreach and university administration, along with support for the student union. The report from the think tank the Higher Education Policy Institute comes as the future of tuition fees is being reviewed by Philip Augar, a former banker. He is considering recommending that fees be cut to £6,500, with govt making up the rest. There is little information available on where the fees go. Rosemary Bennett, The Times.
  • Jun.26.2018: Vice-chancellors are still making hay. Vice-chancellors’ pay continues to draw scrutiny. the outrageous £808,000 pay package of the vice-chancellor (VC) of Bath Spa University and the perceived out-of-touch response by the vice-chancellor of Oxford who attempted to defend high UK VC pay as being part of an international market. ... The report cites a table of vice-chancellors’ salaries in the Times Higher Education in June 2017, which looked at salaries, and found that ten university vice-chancellors had pay and perks packages of around £400,000. In February 2018 the average VC pay package was £290,000, according to a Times Higher Education VC salary survey. The nub of the problem appears to be the “Gentleman’s Agreement” by which vice-chancellors may sit on remuneration committees but “must not be present for discussions that directly affect them”. Intergenerational Foundation.
  • Mar.18.2018: Top degree fees "to hit £40,000". Ten British universities will be charging students up to £120,000 for a degree within a decade, a leading academic has predicted. An elite group, including Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London, could increase fees to attract the best staff and students from all over the world — and their vice-chancellors would be paid correspondingly high salaries. Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor at Buckingham University, believes the new global elite will also include Harvard, Yale and Massachusetts Institute of Technology and emerging Chinese institutions. The rest of Britain's 100+ universities would fall into one of 5 categories, all charging students less. (Tag:The Commercialisation of Education; Creation of an Elite Class) Sian Griffiths, The Times.
  • Jan.10.2018: Nick Timothy: Justine Greening "blocked tuition fee cuts". Theresa May is now free to carry out reform of tuition fees after she sacked the two ministers who blocked her plans, her former chief of staff says today. Nick Timothy says Justine Greening, former Education secretary, opposed plans for a review to cut tuition fees during her time in Whitehall, forcing the rethink into the long grass. The Telegraph, Kate McCann
  • Jan.10.2018: The thing about tuition fees is that as far as winning votes go, you've got to match or raise the Labour offer, ie: you abolish them. Twitter, @StephenKB
  • Jan.08.2018: In coalition with the Liberal Democrats from May 2010, the Conservatives tripled university tuition fees from £3,000 to £9,000, (in defiance of the Lib Dems' manifesto promise), abolished the Education Maintenance Allowance (a payment of up to £30 a week for 16 to 18 year-olds living in low-income households). Corbyn's promise to abolish tuition fees was a recognition of higher education as a public good, rather than a private commodity. But others condemned the policy on the grounds of fairness. "Labour’s proposal is incredibly regressive," David Willetts, who oversaw the introduction of £9,000 fees as Universities minister, tells me. An IFS study found that the highest-earning graduates would benefit the most while the lowest-earning would benefit the least. Willetts warned that the estimated £11bn cost of ending fees would force the govt to reimpose a cap on student numbers. "The marginal students that don't get a place are the ones from less affluent backgrounds". The Conservatives have pledged to freeze fees at £9,250 (their level since 2017) and to increase the loan repayment threshold from £21,000 to £25,000. New Statesman, George Eaton
  • Dec.06.2017: Government asset sale: Student Loan Book. ...the government's sale of part of the pre-2012 English student loan book. The sale included loans issued by English Local Authorities under the previous (pre-2012) system, specifically those that entered repayment between 2002 and 2006. The transaction achieved a value of £1.7bn. The sale does not and cannot in any way alter the mechanisms and terms of repayment. sold loans will continue to be serviced by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Student Loans Company (SLC) on the same basis as equivalent unsold loans., Joseph Johnson, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation


  • May.08.2018: New funding system leaves schools worse off, say headteachers. A majority of headteachers say a new funding system introduced this year to iron out budget inequities between schools in different areas has left them worse off. Despite the introduction of the National Funding Formula (NFF) in April, school leaders reported that their budgets were still in crisis, with 80% of schools having to cut numbers of teaching assistants and support staff, and 60% removing teaching posts to balance budgets. School funding was a key issue during GE-2017, when parents and teachers joined forces to highlight the impact of funding cuts. The govt responded by recycling £1.3bn from the Department for Education’s existing budget to be put into frontline spending on schools, but despite this and the NFF, schools are feeling the pinch. More than 90% of headteachers in the Worth Less? survey said they thought the DfE had “no realistic idea of how much it costs to effectively run a school”, while 80% of those who contribute to the apprenticeship levy, which further eats into school budgets, do not feel they get any benefit from it. Sally Weale, The Guardian.
  • Feb.18.2018: Rabbis attack schools' "lie" about Earth's age. The Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, the main umbrella body for the ultra-Orthodox, represents at least 100 synagogues and schools, including four state-funded schools and a dozen private institutions. Senior rabbis recently met to review new Department for Education funding contracts and agreed that signing them could amount to heresy. The rabbis focused on a clause that bans schools from teaching "views or theories which are contrary to established scientific or historical evidence". The leaders have written to head teachers to claim the govt is "infiltrating" schools with "the lie that the world is ancient" and not 6,000 years old as claimed in the Bible. The Times, Gabriel Pogrund
  • Jan.27.2018: 8 out of 13 top academy schools sound alarm as cash crisis looms. Major trusts warn over pay, staff levels and maintenance costs. The Guardian, Warwick Mansell, Michael Savage
  • Jan.23.2018: FE commissioner Richard Atkins: "Funding for FE is unfair". The sector’s funding is "unfair", the FE Commissioner has told a parliamentary hearing. While the "main factor" at colleges where he intervenes was "governance and leadership", funding cuts were among the factors that had "challenged colleges more generally". These included the "40% cut in adult funding between 2010 and more recently in 18+ funding and so on, the fact that the 16-to-18 funding rate hasn't gone up since 2010, and the fact that there is increased competition in the 16-to-18 market". FE Week, Jude Burke


Excessive Senior Pay

  • Feb.12.2019: Vice-chancellors paid £500,000 or more at six universities in England. First survey of senior staff pay also shows nearly half of vice-chancellors paid over £300,000, while nearly half of all VCs received more than £300,000. The Open University, London Business School and the University of East London topped the table for leaders’ remuneration, with the OU paying out £718,000 in 2017-18, including compensation for loss of office, to its departed vice-chancellor Peter Horrocks. Richard Adams, The Guardian.
  • Mar.12.2018: Sky-high pay in education isn’t just for university bosses. Look at academies. Leaders of academy trusts often earn more than £200,000, while the profession struggles to recruit teachers. The situation for leaders of chains of Academy schools – institutions funded directly by govt, rather than via local councils, which have freedoms including near-complete autonomy over staff pay and conditions – is almost identical, with many heads or school leaders earning more than chief executives of councils, even though the latter are generally far larger organisations. Academy “chief executives” can also be paid far more for running these quasi-independent, charitable bodies, where pay is set by boards of directors, or trustees, than they would once have earned as headteachers of conventional state schools. In Autumn 2017, I analysed the 2015-16 accounts of 127 of the largest academy chains, known as multi-academy trusts. There were 357 people paid at least £100,000; 69 on £150,000+; and 15 cases on at least £200,000. (more...) Warwick Mansell, The Guardian.
  • Jan.09.2018: Bolting the stable door after the horse has already legged it... Universities will have to justify excessive senior pay under new rules. Proposed guidance for institutions comes after series of headlines about huge pay packets of senior staff. It also aims to improve transparency around remuneration decisions, after it emerged that some vice-chancellors had sat on the committees deciding their salaries. The Guardian, Sally Weale
  • Nov.03.2017: Top-earning academy bosses revealed. England’s highest earning academy bosses are revealed today in a Tes analysis of 121 trusts identified by the Department for Education (DfE) as paying salaries of more than £150,000. TES , Jonathan Owen


  • Jun.30.2018: ‘A market-led school system has put finances before the needs of pupils’. Leaders can feel obliged to put the market position of a school above all else, even if it contradicts their professional values. The economic and regulatory incentives facing state schools in England are increasingly in tension with an inclusive, broad and balanced education for pupils. Since 2010 the government has used the language of a “self-improving school-led system” to characterise its reforms, arguing that these are “moving control to the frontline”. Our research shows that this is a partial and idealised account: while some higher-performing schools are benefiting, the system as a whole is becoming more fragmented and less equitable. Schools have been strongly encouraged (and sometimes forced) to become academies, which are independent of local govt, on the premise that they will be freed from red tape. ... the reality is that market and accountability pressures are creating a system of winners and losers. Meanwhile, the litany of recent cases of corruption in MATs is blamed on individual maverick leaders rather than on a system that places economic incentives above equity, inclusion and professionalism. Toby Greany, Rob Higham, The Guardian.
  • Mar.31.2016: The final frontier for privatisation: schools. As in the NHS, the govt’s structural changes to schools are just the start of a massive privatisation process. UK education secretary, Nicola Morgan said "The dramatic expansion of the academies programme’ represents a ‘dramatic shift of power from the old educational establishment’." PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is heavily involved in education system reform, and has put a figure on EdTech. It estimates that the ‘connected education’, or ed-tech, market ‘will grow at around 32% annually over the next 5 years and, by 2020, will be worth almost $446bn globally.’ At a private education reform gathering in 2012, hosted by James O'Shaughnessy, a PwC representative outlined a service it had developed to partner with groups of newly created academies to provide back-office functions, which it called a ‘schools solution for sharing’. Unlike public sector ‘sharing solutions’, however, this service would be provided on a for-profit basis. ‘PwC isn’t spending all this money for the hell of it,’ said the PwC rep regarding the investment the firm had made in developing the service: ‘We see this as a great opportunity.’) A publicly-controlled school sector is seen as a barrier to technology, whereas the private sector is seen as a much more willing buyer. The solution is clear; push for privatisation. Like the structural changes to the NHS, the govt’s school reforms will hand more control to the private sector. Across both sectors, increasingly it will be unaccountable private interests that get to say how these £multi-bn budgets are allocated. This is not how it was pitched to us. The NHS reforms were sold to us as empowering GPs. ‘The whole point of our NHS reforms,’ said David Cameron, is ‘to put the power in the hands of local doctors, so that they make decisions based on what is good for their local area.’ Likewise, Nicky Morgan said last week: ‘We need to put our trust into the hands of the people that know best how to run our schools – the teachers – and the academy system does just that.’ Tamasin Cave, SpinWatch.

State-funded Schools

There are six main types:

1. Academy Schools

  • Academy (English school)Wikipedia-W.svg
  • State-funded directly by the DfE; may receive additional funding/support from personal or corporate sponsors.
  • Independent of local authority control
  • Self-governing non-profit charitable trusts.
  • Do not have to follow the National Curriculum
  • OfSted inspected
  • See also the National Union of Teachers Campaign against academies.

Start-up costs are typically funded by private means, such as entrepreneurs or NGOs, with running costs met by Central Government and, like Foundation schools, are administratively free from direct local authority control. The 2010 Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition govt expanded the role of Academies in the Academy Programme, in which a wide number of schools in non-deprived areas were also encouraged to become Academies, thereby essentially replacing the role of Foundation schools established by the previous Labour govt. They are monitored directly by the Department for Education.

  • May.14.2018: Privatisation Fails. The first academies opened in 2002. Initially only failing schools were encouraged to 'academise' but, under the coalition government, this process was sped up considerably. Schools which were labelled as 'underperforming' were forced to become 'sponsored' academies within academy chains, while schools with good or outstanding ratings were encouraged to academise independently. Over 60% of secondary schools are now academies. More primaries are being converted all the time. There’s no evidence that academies improve standards. In fact, there’s evidence that academies improve more slowly than state run schools and that council-run schools do better than academies. Read more about academisation and what we can do about it here. We Own It.
  • Feb.03.2018: Dozens of academy schools need bailouts from taxpayers. Operators of dozens of academy schools are having to rely on emergency handouts from the taxpayer as a result of mounting deficits that threaten to put some out of business. Birmingham-based Academy Transformation Trust (ATT) received funding from the govt of £59m last year and operates 21 schools educating nearly 12,000 pupils, is one of a number of chains that appear to be relying on future govt handouts to keep functioning. The Rodillian Multi Academy Trust, in West Yorkshire, disclosed that it also needs a "cash advance to be able to operate effectively". The trust operates 4 schools + reported a deficit of £1.5m last year. London-based Chapel Street Community Schools Trust runs five free schools and two academies. Plymouth CAST is predicting that more than 90% of its schools would be in deficit by next year. The Department for Education says that school funding is rising from almost £41bn in 2017-18 to £43.5bn in 2019-20. The Guardian, Michael Savage, Warwick Mansell
  • Oct.21.2017: Collapsing academy trust ‘asset-stripped its schools of millions’. Freeston Academy, West Yorkshire. Parents rec'd letter "the academy trust that managed Freeston and 20 other schools across Yorkshire is disbanding". Wakefield City Academies Trust now stands accused of "asset stripping" after it transferred millions of pounds of the schools’ savings to its own accounts before collapsing. The government has encouraged academies to join multi-academy trusts, promoting them as a support structure for schools once they leave local authority control. In Nov.2016 a leaked draft DfE report stated that the trust was in an "extremely vulnerable position as a result of inadequate governance, leadership and overall financial management". (chief executive, Mike Ramsay. The trust paid almost £440,000 to IT and clerking companies owned by Ramsay and his daughter. Earlier this month, the DfE named its "preferred" 8 new sponsors for the schools abandoned by the trust. One of them, Delta Academies Trust (formerly known as SPTA), was stripped of 3 of its schools in late 2015 following concerns about low standards. The Guardian, Frances Perraudin
  • Oct.06.2016: Floreat’s financial woes flag small trust concerns Financial difficulties that have forced an academy chain founded by one of the government’s education advisers to consider a merger have prompted warnings about the viability of primary schools trusts. John Dickens, Schools Week.
  • May.07.2016: What does it mean to be an academy school? In the last Budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced a forced academisation plan, under which all schools in England would either have to convert to academies by 2020 or be committed to converting by 2022. In the last Budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced a forced academisation plan, under which all schools in England would either have to convert to academies by 2020 or be committed to converting by 2022. However, the plans aroused strong criticism from teaching unions and others, including Conservative MPs and councillors, and have now been abandoned. BBC News.
  • Mar.21.2016: Hey Britain – Your Kids Have Just Been Privatised. Osborne’s allegiance is to The City not the country. Look at his actions and we see that one of George Osborne's aims is to reinstate the class divisions that began to ebb away with socially progressive policies. There are many examples of stealing others wealth but in the March 2016 budget there was one that will irreversibly damage the fabric of British society. Without warning Osborne used the Finance Bill to take all schools from local control and privatise them. Think of the rent you can extract when you have every child in the country coming through a privatized education system. Especially if private companies own the means of production, the payroll and can dictate national curriculum. Now think of the power you can yield if you can get young minds to accept a version of events or an economic ideology. Rent-seeking is the use of a company or organization to obtain economic gain (or a free lunch) from others. In this case privatisation means shareholders walk away having ‘monetised’ the value that every teacher and every doctor creates. This is not free market economics – it’s monopoly. ... Ross Ashcroft, Renegade Inc.

2. Comunity Schools

Local authority controlled.

3. Free Schools

Free school (England)Wikipedia-W.svg Funded by taxpayers. A type of academy. Non-profit-making, independent, state-funded school which is free to attend but which is not wholly controlled by a local authority. Governed by non-profit charitable trusts that sign funding agreements with the Education Secretary. Free schools are expected to offer a broad and balanced curriculum, are subject to the same OfSted inspections as all other maintained schools, and are expected to comply with standard performance measures. To set up a Free School, founding groups submit applications to the Department for Education. Start-up grants are provided to establish the schools, and ongoing funding is on an equivalent basis with other locally controlled state-maintained schools. See also the National Union of Teachers Campaign against free schools.

  • May.2018: Free For All? Analysing free schools in England, 2018. Free schools were the flagship education policy of Cons/LibDem govt when they were first introduced in 2010. They were intended to bring new and innovative providers – including parents and teachers – into a more autonomous and self-improving school system, driving up standards through greater school choice and increased competition. "Free for all?" shows the change in structure of free schools over time, revealing they no longer reflect the govt's original intentions set out in 2010. Over the past 3 years, free schools have become less innovative, less parent-led, and increasingly set-up by academy chains. Carl Cullinane, Chloe Rush, Jen Garry, Jude Hillary, Rebecca Montacute, The Sutton Trust.
  • May.31.2018: Free schools have ‘failed to deliver change’. Free schools have failed to transform education and show little of their promised innovation or parental involvement. Michael Gove’s much-vaunted policy when education secretary is simply replicating the academies programme, with an increasing number of free schools opened by multi-academy trusts, according to the Sutton Trust, a foundation that works to improve social mobility. Only a third of free schools — state schools outside local authority control — have demonstrated novel approaches and a dwindling number are being set up by parents, the analysis finds. ... Mark Lehain, interim director of the New Schools Network. Nicola Woolcock, The Times.

New Schools Network

New Schools Network (NSN) is a UK-registered charity which aims to support groups setting up free schools within the English state education sector. Set up in 2009. In June 2010, the free school programme became part of govt policy, and in Sept.2011 the first 24 free schools. The network worked with 22 of these schools, including the journalist Toby Young in his project to set up the new West London Free School in Hammersmith. The charity supports free school applicants through its Development Programme and helps groups by running training events providing advice and through its publications. In May.2010, the DfE awarded the group £500,000 to advise on behalf of the department groups setting up new schools. In 2013, Chief Operating Officer Natalie Evans assumed the role of Director; she was succeeded by Nick Timothy in Jul.2015, who was subsequently replaced by Toby Young in Jan.2017. The role of Chief Executive is salaried at £90,000 pa.(2017)
In Sept.2010, MP Lisa Nandy lodged a formal complaint with the Charity Commission over concerns about the impartiality of the New Schools Network. The Charity Commission ruled in Nov.2010 that the charity had not acted inappropriately and consequently closed the investigation.

  • Mar.23.2018: Toby Young clings on to taxpayer-funded Free Schools role. Toby Young has held on to his taxpayer-funded post running a Free Schools advisory service, despite his controversial views on women and genetics, but only after there were no other applicants. Young is likely to suffer a pay cut, with the DfE deciding to cut future grants for the NSN and refusing to support its attempts to expand into other areas, such as encouraging schools to convert to academies. The service contract for £3m was last awarded to the NSN in 2014. But the sharp scaling back in new Free School applications and openings has meant that the DfE is likely to reduce funding for the support service, as demand has dried up. Richard Adams, The Guardian.

4. Foundation Schools


Grammar Schools

  • May.11.2018: Grammar schools in England to get £50m expansion fund. Money is latest effort by government to resuscitate selective schools in face of opposition from educationalists and policy-makers. Grammar schools in England will be given £tens of millions to expand, after the education secretary, Damian Hinds, unveiled a fund for selective schools that agree to improve applications from disadvantaged children. The £50m fund will potentially allow the creation of new “satellite” campuses of grammar schools away from their existing sites, although the DfE said there would be a “very high bar” for such expansions. Controversial proposals to lift the ban on creating new grammar schools were a key part of the Conservative manifesto in last year’s snap general election, but the plans were dropped in the wake of the election result, which saw the Tories lose their overall majority. Richard Adams, The Guardian. See also Damian Hinds defends £50m grammar schools fund

5. Voluntary Aided Schools

Faith schools

  • Dec.20.2018: Iran’s school in London told to shape up. The School of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in Maida Vale, founded by the Iranian govt, has been given a formal warning by the Department for Education after OfSted found several failings, including in its policies for spotting radicalisation. This year the govt has sent 126 warning notices to private schools after critical reports from inspectors. Last year OfSted said that there had been a “sharp decline” in standards at private faith schools. Kaya Burgess, The Times.
  • Mar.10.2018: British values are a poor fit with faith schools. At this week’s cabinet meeting Theresa May told ministers that as part of the government's new Integrated Communities Strategy schools dominated by pupils from a single race or religion must teach "pluralistic British values". What makes this gold-plated baloney is that while the govt proposes the teaching of values to help pupils understand "different ways of life", it has also expressed a desire to see schools further segregated along racial and religious lines. In a recent interview the education secretary, Damian Hinds, suggested that he was in favour of ditching the 50% cap on religious admissions to new oversubscribed faith schools. In other words, he is in favour of more faith schools being able to select 100% of their pupils on the basis of religion: more mono-religious, mono-cultural schools. It matters deeply that we resist more segregation in schools. Parts of this country are woefully divided. (more...) (Speechwriter to the PM) The Times, Clare Foges
  • May.17.2008: Christian fundamentalists fighting spiritual battle in Parliament. Carmel Christian School is my latest stop on a journey through British Christian fundamentalism, for a Channel 4 Dispatches film. The uncompromising creationist curriculum taught in Carmel has been imported from the US. It is called Accelerated Christian Education; the motto of the Florida-based company who produce it is: "Reaching the world for Christ, one child at a time." 50 small schools in the UK are teaching this curriculum. According to the head teacher, David Owens, it's all thanks to a Labour prime minister. "Tony Blair opened the door in the debate on faith schools," he explains. The school is part of the Carmel Christian Centre, one of a growing number of locally based hard-line Christian organisations. The aim of these groups is to spread a fundamentalist form of Christianity. The followers believe that the Bible is literally true and not open to any degree of interpretation. They are the only "true" Christians because they have confessed their sins before Jesus and become "born again". Those who have not converted are damned. Carmel says they are a Pentecostal Church, one of the most prominent and fundamentalist strands of evangelical Christianity. more' David Modell, The Telegraph.
  • ~2006: Faith Schools - Why Not? Here we summarise the main arguments against faith schools and challenge some common assumptions. It is widely assumed that religious (or "faith-based" or "faith") schools are a good thing. Humanists UK.

6. Voluntary Controlled Schools


Free Schools

  • 2017.07.11: What are free schools, how many are there in the UK and what is Theresa May’s expansion plan? The Sun, Paul Harper

Illegal Schools

Private Schools

  • Jun.04.2018: Private schools now cost the UK taxpayer over HALF A BILLION – with rich families benefiting most from huge tax relief. Private schools across the country are offering the vast majority of their means-tested bursaries and tuition fee discounts to the children of rich families rather than students of less well-off or disadvantaged families as they were intended to be used, a study of local council records has revealed. Independent schools are obligated to offer assistance and make themselves more accessible to people from disadvantaged backgrounds, or with reduced means. It is therefore perverse then, that bursaries and means-tested assistance is still being offered by private schools to families with incomes up to £140,000 per year. According to the Independent Schools Council’s 2018 annual census and report, the provision of means-tested scholarships has dropped 9%, from £22m to £20m between 2017 and 2018, whilst the provision of non-means-tested scholarships has risen 7% from £174m to £186m between 2017 and 2018. At the same time, from 2007, the average independent school has raised its fees by 59%, which is far above inflation, constituting a rise of 29% in real terms. ... Increasingly, private schools market themselves as fully enclosed retreats, with vast swathes of land, en-suite dorms, concert halls, dance studios and swimming pools. Pretty plush, one would think, for a supposed charity. William J Richardson, Evolve Politics.