This year will see the amount of public money spent on education, fall. However, we are not supposed to worry about the impact of this. A number of reassurances are used by the current Government in the process of framing public spending. For example, the phrase “we’re all in this together” is supposed to make us feel that these cuts are fair, that everyone will experience cuts to the same extent, that no one group is being singled out. It is a case of all citizens sharing the burden, bankers and bin men alike. This reassurance is however inconsistent with other reassurances from the Government over the protection of ‘front line services’. Firstly, cuts cannot be fair and equally spread if some services are protected while others are not. Secondly, the definition of ‘front line services’ is not clear. The term ‘front line services’ may appear common sensical, referring to those essential services that no civilised society, or no individual can live without. In reality, ‘front line services’ differ between individuals, so some members of the population may see the services they rely on protected, while others will see them cut.
When it comes to education, a 0.1% increase in schools’ budgets were suggested in the October spending review. By December, pantomime season had descended; it was a case of ‘oh no it isn’t’. The 0.1% rise is not a real rise, given inflation. It also means that the pupil premium isn’t actually extra money. According to the DfE Some LEAs and schools will see their budgets fall.
Other cuts were announced. £162 million of funding to the School Sports Partnership was to be cut. By the 20th December Gove could be heard crying ‘Oh no its not’ as the DfE issued a news release to the effect that funding will now continue until the end of summer term 2011.
On 17th December Booktrust, an independent charity which runs a book gifting scheme giving books to children and families to encourage reading were told that their £13 million Government funding would cease from 1 April 2011. No sooner had the charity released the contents of the letter, but Government, in gesture of seasonal goodwill decided to review the decision. Clearly the ghost of Christmas future has not visited, as it is only a partial ‘u turn’ as the Government has declared it is committed to bookgifting and will continue to work with Booktrust.
Could it be argued that school sports, books and reading are not ‘front line services’?