|©Parliamentary copyright||Prepared 23rd December 2010|
Spending review settlement for the Department of Education
HOUSE OF COMMONS
TAKEN BEFORE THE
SPENDING REVIEW SETTLEMENT FOR THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION
TUESDAY 14 DECEMBER 2010
MICHAEL GOVE MP and DAVID BELL
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
Taken before the Education Committee
on Tuesday 14 December 2010
Mr Graham Stuart (Chair)
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Rt Hon. Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education, and David Bell, Permanent Secretary, Department for Education, gave evidence.
Q126 Chair: Good morning and welcome to this session, in which we plan to question the Secretary of State and the Permanent Secretary, both of whom are very welcome here this morning, on both the White Paper and the Spending Review settlement.
Secretary of State, may I begin by asking, at individual school level and taking all the various funding pots that come to schools, will every school have its funding protected next year by the minimum funding guarantee?
Michael Gove: Yes.
Q127 Chair: Thank you very much. On the issue of the national funding formula, when exactly do you plan for us to move to it and is that still the plan?
Michael Gove: Yes, it is.
Q128 Chair: And can you explain the rationale behind moving to that formula?
Michael Gove: Thank you very much, Mr Chairman, I would be delighted to. As I am sure that colleagues here are all too well aware, we have inherited a funding settlement for schools that has all sorts of historical features that, fundamentally, lead to inequities. The school funding system was created over time by a variety of well intentioned people, all of whom were trying to deal with specific problems, but in the end it has become a sort of patch and repair job. That has led to a situation wherein local authorities in very similar circumstances can have widely differential funding. The two West Midlands authorities of Sandwell and Dudley, for example, have widely differing funding-Sandwell is more generously funded than Dudley-even though both communities have similar challenges.
More broadly, there are some local authorities where individual schools, often with high concentrations of pupils who experience deprivation, are more poorly funded. Mr Mearns will know that, for example, Gateshead, which in demographic terms is almost identical to Newcastle, is less well funded than Newcastle. For that reason, one of the things that we want to do is move to a system where there is a greater degree of underlying equity between the funding for all local authority areas. That will take time. We propose to consult early next year on how we might move there because, obviously, it is a big challenge, and what we want to do is ensure that people appreciate that the goal of a greater degree of equity comes at the price of some turbulence in the system to get there. How you balance the two should not be decided just by ministerial fiat; it needs to follow consultation.
Q129 Chair: Thank you for that. If you are moving to a more equitable system-you’ve talked about Gateshead and Newcastle and there are many other examples around the country-how clear is the link between additional funding and improved performance?
Michael Gove: Everything depends on how you use the money. One of the most important events in education in the past seven months has not been anything that I have done, but the PISA report that was published just the other week by the OECD. It showed, in what was bracing news for many of us, that Britain was falling further down the league tables in educational attainment. It also made the point that Britain was spending on education at or just above the OECD average, depending on where you look in the life cycle. That made the point powerfully that money on its own does not generate improved performance, but money wisely spent can really bring benefits. We acknowledge that over the past 10 to 13 years there has been a significant increase in educational spending, which has been broadly welcome, but it has not always been effectively spent. We want to make sure that that money is spent more effectively, which is why we are introducing a range of reforms in the schools White Paper and elsewhere.
Q130 Chair: Can I take you back to the historical analysis of existing effectiveness? Between local authority areas, is there evidence that additional resources-above a fair distribution based on need in some areas-lead to higher performance in those areas over those that get less? It would call into question a lot of assumptions of the politics of education in recent years if it turned out that those who get considerably more money do not overall deliver more for it. What is your analysis of that?
Michael Gove: It’s a lumpy picture. Some local authority areas have received additional funding and used it well; others have not. There are some local authority areas that are relatively poorly funded, such as Leicestershire, where good-quality leadership has resulted in some very, very good practice. The truth is that you cannot directly correlate increased funding in a local authority area and improved performance. You have to look at the picture local authority by local authority and, in some places, school by school.
Q131 Chair: So would you like to move to a flat-rate allocation per pupil across England, mediated only by a Pupil Premium to reflect deprivation and other special issues?
Michael Gove: Yes.
Chair: Excellent. Thank you very much.
Q132 Ian Mearns: Good morning, Secretary of State and good morning, David. After yesterday’s distribution of bounty by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, there is bound to be uncertainty still among local authorities and head teachers about how the education funding streams will work next year. Can you clarify exactly which current funding streams will be incorporated into the revised dedicated schools grant from next year? Will there be substantial winners and substantial losers?
Michael Gove: I quite understand, Mr Mearns, why people are concerned-
Ian Mearns: Secretary of State, it’s Ian.
Michael Gove: Okay, thank you. Schools funding is complex, but we have tried to simplify it. The dedicated schools grant will now include the school development grant; specialist schools funding, which includes funding for high performing specialist schools; the school standards grant; the free entitlement for three and four-year-olds, and in due course the poorest two-year-olds, to 15 hours of pre-school learning; all the money that went to the national strategies; the ethnic minority achievement grant; the deployment delivery grant; the school lunch grant; all the one-to-one tuition money-Every Child a Reader and so on; and extended school sustainability and subsidy money. That all goes into the DSG pot. As a result, the money that comes from the Department for Education is basically split into the dedicated schools grant, the new early intervention grant-basically, all the money that used to go to youth, Sure Start and specific children’s services, all coming in one-and the Pupil Premium that will be paid to schools.
The amount of money that goes to a local authority area will be the same in cash terms as last year. As you will know, as a former lead member for education and children’s services, within that some schools may win and some may lose. Some schools will have falling rolls and other schools, which may have increased rolls, may be more expensive, historically. In order to try to minimise the turbulence, we have set a minimum funding guarantee, which means that no school should lose more than 1.5% in cash terms per pupil, and that is before the Pupil Premium comes in.
Q133 Ian Mearns: So how long will the minimum funding guarantee work for in that case? I am still nominally the chair of the governors of a school that receives about £900,000 above the dedicated schools grant through standards funds, additional area educational grants and the area based grant. We know that the area based grant has gone, but that £900,000 is about 23% or 24% of the school’s overall budget. If that has been consolidated into the funding formula, are you telling us that we will lose no more than 1.5%?
Michael Gove: That’s correct. The local authority will start on the basis of the inherited cash sum for all the money that goes into the dedicated schools grant. In your case, I think, all the money that you might have received for specialist status and through any of those other grants will be the starting point, and you can’t lose more than 1.5% per pupil from that. That is the aim, anyway.
Q134 Ian Mearns: Okay, so what exactly is included in the five-to-16 schools budget? You listed a whole range of things there. It is referred to in the Spending Review. Is that now just shorthand for the DSG?
Michael Gove: Yes.
Q135 Ian Mearns: And when do you expect to announce detailed financial settlements for local authorities and, particularly, for schools for the next financial year?
Michael Gove: Much of what happened yesterday was an effort to provide a greater degree of certainty. There are still one or two details of 16-to-18 funding that we need to outline; and there are still one or two details relating to the specific funding of 75 academies, which we had to look at in greater detail, that have to be announced. However, yesterday I wrote to all local authorities letting them know, in effect, the guaranteed unit of funding, the per pupil amount for every local authority, the overall amount that each would receive in revenue funding next year and the amount they would receive in capital funding, broken down to take account of population growth and maintenance. So there are one or two significant elements of expenditure that still need to be outlined, but the bulk are now out there and, on that basis, I hope that local authorities will be able to plan for next year for their schools.
Q136 Ian Mearns: Before you took over the job, did you think that it was going to be this complicated?
Michael Gove: No.
David Bell: I told you.
Michael Gove: It was the case that the Permanent Secretary and his team, in the best traditions of the civil service, helped us to prepare for the transition. I remember him taking me through the details of schools funding, and when I got home I had several stiff drinks as I contemplated exactly what that involved. I have to say that I have been helped enormously by the officials at the Department in trying to navigate the way through this. Obviously, our aim is to try to make it simpler and to give a greater degree of certainty to folk on the front line.
Q137 Chair: Before I come back to you, Ian, may I ask the Secretary of State to undertake to write to us, setting out like-for-like comparisons-
Ian Mearns: You’ve stolen my question.
Chair: Oh, I’m sorry-it felt like you were moving on. Can we have comparisons both by local authority and for each school? It would be very useful for us to be able to see the actual settlement for each of those.
Michael Gove: I can certainly do it by local authority. I can certainly send you what last year’s dedicated schools grant and the per pupil funding were on that basis, as well as the average amount of grant and what the guaranteed unit of funding is for each local authority from the City of London, which is the best, to I think north or north-east Lincolnshire, which relatively speaking is the poorest funded.
Chair: Thank you. If I could just bring Nic in before I come back to you, Ian?
Q138 Ian Mearns: I think it’s important. Secretary of State, since you have given this minimum funding guarantee that there will be no losers of more than 1.5% on a like-for-like basis, we really should be doing it on a school-by-school basis to make sure that that is the case.
Michael Gove: Yes, but ultimately, it’s a matter for local authorities. You have to strike a balance, and I am sure that I’ll be criticised from either side. My view was that local authorities have a bit of a cushion to be able to cope with changing populations, but 1.5% means that, most importantly, chairs of governors and heads have a degree of certainty. The reason for making the Pupil Premium a straightforward figure this year, the very first year of introduction, is to try, among other things, to make it as simple as possible,. It should be the case that people will be able to calculate relatively rapidly, on the basis of the number of children who are eligible for free school meals, what the extra cash will be.
Q139 Ian Mearns: How long would you suggest that the 1.5% minimum funding guarantee will carry on for? Is that going to be a depreciating amount over the years?
Michael Gove: It is just for this year, because one of the things that we want to do in the spring, following on from the Chairman’s question, is look at how we can change underlying funding in order to make it fairer, but it applies definitely this year. The principle behind it is, I think, important: that you want to try to minimise turbulence in the system.
Ian Mearns: Thank you very much.
Q140 Nic Dakin: My Scunthorpe constituency lies in north Lincolnshire, so I’m a bit anxious about what you just said, Michael. You seem to be saying that schools will have less money only if their pupil roll is falling. Is that what you are saying-that no school should have less money next year than it has this year unless its roll has fallen?
Michael Gove: A lot depends on a specific decision that a local authority might make. A given local authority might say, "Okay, this is what the schools all inherited, but we think that for specific reasons, for which we’ll be accountable to the local community, more resources need to be put into this school rather than that one," but everyone will know, as I have explained to Ian, I hope, that no school will lose more than 1.5% per pupil.
Another thing that I should mention is that, overall, we know that local authorities have to take responsibility for special needs and alternative provision. Within that, a local authority may say that it wants to make a specific investment in special needs, or the schools may decide, through the schools forum, that that is a wise thing to do. All of them may agree to take a cash hit, as it were, in order to invest in that additional funding from which they would all benefit. But it will be the local authority and its schools forum that will decide, rather than me.
Q141 Nic Dakin: You seem to be saying that although in cash terms, things are relatively protected, some schools-even though their rolls remain the same or increase-will be worse off than they are now in real terms because of pressures such as incremental drift in staff salaries, so there will be significant pressure on school budgets.
Michael Gove: I will come to the salary point in a moment, but let me try to give you a "for instance". The Permanent Secretary can stop me if I get this wrong. Let’s imagine that there are two schools in your constituency, one of which has historically been funded on the level of £5,000 per pupil, and one that has been funded on a level of £3,000 per pupil. The wealthier school might have received that additional money quite rightly because there has historically been more deprivation. If more pupils move from the lower-funded school to the higher-funded school, what you would need to do in the higher-funded school, in order to keep the lower-funded school viable, is to cap the additional amount per pupil that it gets. So that popular, higher-funded school would receive less per pupil for every new pupil that it got, in order to smooth the process overall. In those circumstances, the poorer school is losing because its pupils are migrating to the wealthier school, but we ensure that in per pupil terms it is protected; and the higher-funded school is gaining more pupils, but we have to dampen the additional flow of cash into there in order to help the poorer school. That is one of the changes that happen in the complex world of education funding.
On inflation overall, one of the things that we have done is say that we are going to have a two-year pay freeze for teachers. Obviously, the biggest cost that any school incurs is staff salaries. I want to take the opportunity to say that I enjoy lively discussions with all the trade unions on a wide range of issues, and I have been impressed by the maturity that all the trade unions have shown in recognising that this pay freeze is designed to ensure that we minimise teacher redundancies.
Q142 Chair: Could a school lose money and cash in per pupil terms even if its pupil numbers were rising?
Michael Gove: Yes-it would, in fact. The school that I have just described would lose money in per pupil terms, but it would end up having more money overall. The school in Nic’s constituency-school A-with £5,000 per pupil would lose money in per pupil terms, because we want to dampen the effect there in order to make sure that the other school, which is losing, doesn’t become too rapidly affected by that turbulence.
Q143 Bill Esterson: One of the head teachers who gave evidence to us suggested that, even without the pay freeze, the increase in costs we face meant that the 0.1% increase is not going to be enough to overcome the effects of inflation. That BBC followed up on that yesterday. Do you accept that, overall, schools are facing a real-terms cut?
Michael Gove: It’s an incredibly difficult settlement.
Q144 Bill Esterson: So that’s a yes?
Michael Gove: Yes-well, it depends on the school. The fact is that, at the time of the Budget, overall the schools element of the Department for Education budget, which is the biggest part of our budget, was going to increase in real terms by 0.1%, once we took in the Pupil Premium. But the new Office for Budget Responsibility report-one of the virtues of transparency that now exists-pointed out that because of the steps that the Government have taken, growth will actually be faster, which is a good thing, and that also means inflation will be higher, so it’s no longer a 0.1% real-terms increase. But economic forecasts come and go. The OBR’s forecasts, I’m sure, are better than anyone else’s, but perhaps in six months’ time it will be forecasting that inflation will slow down, in which case we will have a real-terms increase bigger than 0.1%.
What matters are the real figures in cash terms and the degree of certainty that that brings. In cash terms, as we have just been discussing, local authorities will receive overall exactly the same as they did last year, and then they will get the Pupil Premium on top. It will be tough for heads in the next year. One of the things that we were criticised for in the immediate aftermath of the Spending Review was saying that some schools would lose cash, but again, I have been impressed by the fact that the overwhelming number of heads, and most people in education, have stressed to me that they appreciate how tough it is and that they are grateful to the Chancellor, the Chief Secretary and, as it happens, the Deputy Prime Minister, for weighing in to help the Department for Education get a better settlement than other areas.
I was listening to a debate in the House yesterday when the former Education Secretary, now the shadow Home Secretary, was talking about health and education budgets, and he said they were broadly flat in contrast to budgets elsewhere. It was a typically gracious acknowledgment from him that we had quite a good deal. That’s the Whitehall politics of it. The real-world consequences are difficult. The result of the pay freeze means that, overall, schools will have £1.3 billion of inflationary pressure taken out of the system, but I do sympathise with heads. It is going to be tough and we want to work with them in order to make sure it’s easier.
Q145 Bill Esterson: Clearly there are rising rolls. Perhaps you’ll tell me how many years it’s projected, because you will know. What is your estimate of the impact of those rising rolls on the overall figure per pupil?
Michael Gove: We deliberately took account of that, so, at the moment, in this year, the amount that we’re spending on schools is £35.4 billion. By the end of the Comprehensive Spending Review period, it will have gone up by £3.6 billion to £39 billion. Of that, £2.5 billion is the Pupil Premium, and £1.1 billion is to take account of exactly what you mention-the increased birth rate. That £1.1 billion will mean that, in per pupil terms, the cash amount that schools receive will remain steady throughout. It is also the case in respect of capital that we have given local authorities more money to deal with the growth in pupil numbers at primary level. As I am sure you will appreciate representing a north-east constituency, but having worked in Kent beforehand, pupil growth varies-
Bill Esterson: Or even a north-west constituency.
Michael Gove: No offence. It was a Freudian slip. The variation in pupil growth is such that, for example, in somewhere like Northumberland pupil numbers are decreasing, but in places like Slough, on either side of the Pennines and in London, they are increasing quite rapidly.
Q146 Bill Esterson: How many schools as a proportion will be gainers and how many will be losers?
Michael Gove: I know that this sounds like I am washing my hands of it but, ultimately, it is a matter for local authorities.
Q147 Bill Esterson: You have said that before, and what worries me about that point is that, on the face of it, there is national protection. I understand your desire for localism and so on, but will that protection actually be there if a local authority decides that to operate somewhat differently? What is the guarantee for schools? That is ultimately your responsibility.
Michael Gove: Let’s imagine that we had a local authority run by a vindictive gang of twisters who really wanted to target one particular school-
Ian Mearns: Name them-[Laughter.]
Michael Gove: I’ll write to the Committee on that point. In such a case, because of the minimum funding guarantee, there is a limit to the damage that that local authority could do on that basis. However, in my experience so far, most local authorities are run by people who are having to take tough decisions in difficult times, so I have to cut them a bit of slack but at the same time I have to make sure that the guarantee is there. Most schools will, I think-certainly on the basis of what we’ve heard so far-be grateful for that guarantee and grateful for the Pupil Premium. The final point I’d make is that local authorities distribute money between schools normally through pretty good consultation with the schools forum, and that means that the voices of head teachers are represented in the debate.
Q148 Bill Esterson: On the Pupil Premium and yesterday’s announcement, the value of the premium next year is a quarter of its value in 2014-15. How is that accounted for? What is the relationship between the addition of the money and eligibility for free school meals?
Michael Gove: Because it is a period when schools and local authorities have to cope with a tough time, in the first year we want to make it as helpful and simple as possible. Every child who is eligible for free school meals will receive £430 for their school to spend on them-primary and secondary.
Q149 Bill Esterson: That’s from next year?
Michael Gove: Yes, from September. The aim is obviously to address the attainment gap between poorer and wealthier children. We can perhaps discuss that a wee bit later. The specific way in which it will apply means that I expect the number of children who apply to take up free school meals will increase because some families do not do so at present. I think that that problem will be addressed and we have built in a little bit of a cushion to deal with it. Once it is up and running, we propose to extend eligibility to all children who have been eligible for free school meals at any time in the preceding six years. As you are aware, once children are eligible for free school meals and additional benefits come, there is sometimes a disincentive for the family to move into work or into higher-paid work.
Q150 Bill Esterson: Doesn’t this do the same thing, though?
Michael Gove: At the moment, in the very first year, the only reliable data that schools will have that will work for an early introduction of the Pupil Premium relate to current eligibility for free school meals. We can then include eligibility at any time over the previous six years. That means that a family who fall into poverty but then come out of it will not lose their eligibility for the Pupil Premium, so it will capture a significantly broader group. But there is no more reliable way of identifying on a per-pupil basis those children who are in poverty than using eligibility for free school meals.
We have looked at a variety of different ways. Some folk have said, "Why don’t you just look at the criteria for deprivation in a particular postcode, which can be used for distributing benefits? Why don’t you look at super-output areas?" One of the problems there is that you could have an individual in that area, who is relatively high earning-a GP or whatever-whose children benefit from a Pupil Premium: whereas if you use free school meals, the money is attached specifically to that child.
Also, the data that we have on under-attainment of poorer children are very often attached to the under-performance of children who are eligible for free school meals. So, as a starting point, I cannot see that there is a better way of identifying the poor children who need most help. But we want to build in a bit of flexibility next year and to move that cliff edge effect.
Q151 Bill Esterson: Sure. To finish on this point, Chairman, there is a concern that people will try to get on to free school meals and will be concerned that coming off them will cause that problem. Clearly that will have to be managed very carefully, otherwise you will get that perverse incentive.
Michael Gove: That’s a very good point and that is precisely why we want to extend it to anyone whose child may have been eligible in the preceding six years. For the sake of argument, if you are unemployed and you move into a job, or if a family take on additional work, there is no penalty. It is because we want to remove that penalty that we are changing the eligibility after the very first year. But for the first year, this is a reliable way of getting money there.
One of our departmental mottos is, "Never make the perfect the enemy of the good." It seems to me that it is more important that we get the cash to schools with poor children quickly and then build up to develop a better system over time.
Q152 Pat Glass: I’m quite a simple soul and I operate very much at the level of the school, so can I pick up on your "for instance"? Imagine I am a primary school head teacher in a relatively deprived area. I’ve got rising rolls, and they are mainly in the two to three year level in my nursery and children’s centre-and those children will therefore not get the Pupil Premium. Taking into account the rise in inflation, and given that I have a school with many needs and I have to buy in additional services from the local authority, which has cuts and will either not have those services or will be charging me for them, I am in a very difficult position, am I not?
Michael Gove: Again, it would depend on the local authority area. First, with respect to the school that you described with a maintained nursery attached, we know that the number of maintained nurseries is higher in the north of England than it is in the south. The children in that school will get 15 hours of free education-up from 12.5 beforehand. The previous Government wanted to increase it to 15: we might have been expected, at a time of austerity, to reduce it, but, no, we’ve maintained it and we’ve extended it to the very poorest two-year-olds as well. So that will help.
Secondly, if the school is in a relatively deprived area, every child from the age of five will receive the Pupil Premium and it’s up to the head teacher how that money is spent. The school will be held to account to ensure that the attainment of all children improves, and in particular the attainment of poorer children. But how that money is spent, whether it is on additional teaching or support staff, would be for the head teacher to decide. The head teacher might decide to use a little bit of that money to help the maintained nursery, knowing that getting the children off to the best possible start before they come into reception might be the best way of helping everyone.
As I have said, the minimum funding guarantee means that there will be no more than a 1.5% reduction overall per pupil. It is also the case that the early intervention grant would allow the local authority to support a school, if it felt that that school was dealing with children who had really complicated and challenging needs. Yes, I can see why the school that you mentioned would have a challenging time in the years ahead, but we have not been heedless of the sorts of problems that a school like that would face. I would hope that some of the protections that we have put in place would help it.
Q153 Ian Mearns: On the back of that, Chairman, I have a question on how the Secretary of State will determine the eligibility criteria of the very poorest two-year-olds.
Michael Gove: We are working on it now, with the anticipation of that money coming in the year after next. Our view is that, currently, the previous Government identified 20,000 of the poorest. Any cohort will be 600,000-it is actually slightly more-and we want to reach 120,000 of them. We are consulting on how to identify them.
Q154 Pat Glass: Looking at the Pupil Premium, there is a huge amount of evidence that tells us that intervening early is helpful, not only for children from poorer families, but for children with special needs and so on. The educational attainment gap starts to open up at 22 months old. Why was a decision taken not to fund the Pupil Premium for two and three-year-olds, given that weight of evidence?
Michael Gove: You are right that the educational attainment gap starts to open at two. The main thing is that the Pupil Premium is there for compulsory school age children. It applies from five to 16 years old. There are other things that are done to help school age children and children post-16 on the basis of those children coming from disadvantaged homes. Post-16 there is an inbuilt premium, which we will see more about in a few weeks time, which helps poorer children. At pre-school level, as well as the extra money for the poorest two-year-olds, the whole way in which the network of children’s centres is set up reflects the need to intervene first in those areas of greatest need.
The second thing is that the basic offer that children’s centres have is targeted more at poorer areas. Some of the later phase 3 children’s centres in areas such as my own are under an obligation to have a lower offer than areas such as Consett, where more, quite rightly, is demanded of them. On top of that, Dame Clare Tickell has been asked to look at the early years foundation stage and how we can change that curriculum to address the problems with school readiness.
Beyond that, Frank Field has done a report for us on how to improve pre-school education, which we are considering. Graham Allen is also doing a report for us on what the best methods for early intervention are, what the most proven programmes are, where the evidence shows that they really make a difference. We have a little pot of money in the Department-quite a small pot-waiting to be spent on best practice, and the early intervention grant gives local authorities an opportunity to funnel more cash into those areas that they think are important. Those are all attempts to deal with precisely what you mention.
Q155 Pat Glass: So, when times are better, is that something that you would be prepared to look at, given the huge rate of evidence? Putting money in at the beginning is so much more productive than putting it into the Pupil Premium at the end.
Michael Gove: Yes.
Pat Glass: Good. Thank you.
Q156 Chair: What is the rationale for making cuts so rapidly and having such a big impact in the first year? We have had local authority representatives and head teachers appearing before us, saying that they felt that they could cope with reductions in public expenditure, but that they could not cope if they were given hardly any notice. Why is it so up front?
Michael Gove: In a way, that is a broader economic discussion. I will have to be a wee bit party political, so I hope that you will forgive me. A judgment was made by the coalition Government that, to restore confidence in our economy, we needed to show that we were on a path of deficit reduction, which required us to deal with the deficit early and in serious terms. The alternative view, put forward and maintained by Labour, is that it is better to have a slower pace of deficit reduction. In consequence, if you look at schools spending, the previous Education Secretary would have had or would have wanted to have, a slightly higher level of spending over the first two years of the Spending Review period, but the inevitable consequence of that would have been that spending afterwards would have fallen further.
Q157 Chair: The issue here is about notice, the ability to plan, and the ability to commission third sector providers, or whatever, in different directions.
Michael Gove: Everything is driven by the broad economic picture. It is inescapable-that is the reason. What we are doing is saying, "Look, it’s action stations. This is an economic situation that none of us would have wanted. We can have finger pointing, but the decisions have been taken." If the Chancellor of the Exchequer was here, he would be far better than me at explaining why the OECD, the IMF and others are saying, "Correct-right thing to do." We are now in the position, as we will be debating later, to give money to Ireland, rather than having to ask for money from the EU.
However, we know that the consequences of that, at local authority and at school level, will be difficult. We have tried to deal with that by making sure that schools have the protections that I have outlined. With respect to local authorities, we have said, "Okay. Yes, there’s less cash, but let’s get all the things about which you have complained-ring-fencing and an onerous set of inspections-out of the way."
Q158 Damian Hinds: Following on from Pat’s line of questioning, Secretary of State, I wanted to talk about commissioning from the non-public sector and the early intervention grant more broadly. When we talk about payment by results, the natural question is-what results? Most of us think that we know it when we see it, with early years, but, when you talk to providers, there is not really a set framework or a set story.
A moment ago, you mentioned some funding that you had for research into best practice and also Frank Field’s report, The Foundation Years, which starts to suggest that life chances indices are more broad range. Ultimately, do you expect to have a sort of centrally determined set of measurements that can then be applied to pretty much any setting? Or do you expect to devolve the decisions on what counts as results, in payment by results, to local authorities?
Michael Gove: I think that there are some national indicators that we can look at. One of them would be the success of nursery Sure Start centres and early years settings overall in getting children from less-privileged backgrounds to attend, to stay and to benefit. One of the criticisms or observations made about Sure Start was that, whatever its successes and whatever its complications, it was not as effective as it should have been in reaching certain families, which is one of the reasons why we have invested in expanding the health visitor programme. That is one indicator.
Another indicator is just school-readiness. Dame Clare Tickell, whom I mentioned earlier, is looking at the early years foundation stage-the so-called "nappy curriculum"-for us. Again, I think there is broad agreement that people working in early years were asked to do far too much by way of recording different things. We want to have more of a focus on making sure that children, when they arrive at school, have the basic accomplishments that they need in order to be able to benefit.
So, those are the matters that I would like to focus on nationally, but I think that the second part of your question was very well put. The overall thrust of what the coalition wants to do is to recognise that, if you are going to devolve decision making down to a local level, local authorities can decide what some of their priorities might be, which organisations are best placed and how they should be rewarded.
Q159 Damian Hinds: Do you think local authorities would in general welcome more central guidance, in terms of measurements and so on, in what for them would be a new area? How sufficient do you think the capacity of the typical local authority is to be able to commission effectively in this area?
Michael Gove: We were discussing it earlier. Local authorities vary significantly in their capacity here. I went to speak to the Association of Directors of Children’s Services. To a man and woman, they are a very impressive group of people. You would expect that, because they are the folk in local government who have the biggest budgets. They are thoughtful people. Obviously, in certain areas they want central Government to give a clear lead, but they recognise that the direction of travel is increasingly giving responsibility to them to commission services from the voluntary and charitable sector, and indeed from private providers. Many of them are looking forward to the challenge of greater creativity that will be given to them.
Q160 Damian Hinds: Turning to the early intervention grant more broadly, it is £2.2 billion rather than £2.3 billion, which is 11% lower than the previous sets of funds aggregated. In the context of a much greater political focus on early intervention in general-we have the keeping of the 15-hour free entitlement that you mentioned a moment ago, which came as quite a surprise to some people, the extension to disadvantaged two-year-olds, the health visitor programme and so on-and considering that the grant is meant to cover not just early years but also all other years, what proportion of the total effort coming out of that fund do you expect to be on intervention programmes aimed at children beyond the age of five?
Michael Gove: Ultimately, the whole point about the intervention grant-sorry to be like a record-is to leave it to local authorities.
Damian Hinds: But your expectation was more in question than your direction.
Michael Gove: The way in which we have calculated it is according to two formulae. About 70% of that money was calculated on the basis that it will match or map money that went into the early years, and about 30% of that money was calculated on the basis that it will match and map the money that went into interventions for teenagers and young people.
Damian Hinds: Right.
Michael Gove: This is a broad split.
Q161 Damian Hinds: I understand that it is only an expectation, but whatever the precise proportions, clearly in both parts of that split-I know this is true right across Government, but it is perhaps even more true in early intervention-it is going to be necessary to do more with less. Where do you think the economies can be made? Where is that opportunity?
Michael Gove: We talked about guarantees earlier. The whole thing about the drive to give local institutions more power is that at the same time as you do that, you have to provide people with reassurance. One of the things that we have done is reaffirm the fact that there is a statutory duty on local authorities to continue to provide a network of children’s centres. If for any reason they are thinking of amalgamating or reorganising them, they have to consult. The money is there within the early intervention grant to fund the continuing network of children’s centres. We are clear about that.
Beyond that, it is going to be, I think, for each local authority to decide which organisations they wish to work with in order to better deliver those services. I have been struck by the fact that some local authorities have already been very energetic in getting, for example, their children’s centres to be run by outside organisations such as 4Children. There are some local authorities that are certainly-I hesitate to say excited-looking forward to the opportunity to deliver a range of partners, and some are a little less keen.
Q162 Bill Esterson: On this issue about ring-fencing and from your last answer, on the one hand you are taking away the ring fence on all these grants, and on the other you are insisting by statutory requirement. It is like taking away one straitjacket and putting another one straight back on. Is that not a fair assessment? I am not saying it is wrong, by the way.
Michael Gove: We had this discussion in the Department the other day. When someone said, "Every policy these days seem to be judged on the basis of whether you are a localiser or a centraliser", someone else said, "There are two types of people in politics, those who believe in binary divides and those who don’t."
The truth is that we are broadly giving local authorities a significant amount of extra responsibility but, as you move from situation A to situation B, you need to have some steps along the way. Yes, local authorities have a far greater degree of flexibility about who they work with in order to deliver children’s centres or other services and they can be more imaginative, following on from Damian’s question, about allowing children’s centres to open for longer and getting more organisations to use that physical asset to generate income. They can think about, without wanting to descend further into jargon, place-based budgeting and bringing together budgets from a variety of different areas to support particular interventions. But behind that there should be an expectation of enough cash and a clear responsibility to maintain the network of children’s centres.
Q163 Bill Esterson: One of the concerns expressed to me is the overlap with children’s social care. I know that that’s not wholly your responsibility, but it seems to me that there is a danger that it gets marginalised. What assurance can you give that that will not happen?
Michael Gove: One of the great challenges of doing this job, and this applies to a councillor or an officer who deals with education and children’s services in particular, is that there are all sorts of services for which you are responsible that touch on the lives on some of the most vulnerable children. We have to worry about when and how we should intervene when children are at risk, how we make sure that local authorities can continue to provide the service that they need for children in care, and how we can help those children whose lives, for whatever reason, have been thrown into turmoil. Some of the most difficult conversations that we’ve had in the Department have been about making sure that we can protect those vulnerable services at this time. It’s not easy, but we have tried to get fresh thinking in to help us.
Q164 Bill Esterson: Can I give you an example of what concerns me?
Michael Gove: Please do.
Bill Esterson: It’s been going on for some time-it’s not a new issue. Social workers are struggling in one way or another and schools are ending up stepping in more and more, because they see the children day to day and have a relationship with the families. One concern is that, as resources become tighter-the early intervention grant is a prime example of that, because it is where a lot of the support might have come-that support is not going to be there for schools or anyone else to continue to provide it. The fact that the Department is called "Education" and not "Children, Schools and Families" suggests a concentration on education and not on other matters.
Michael Gove: The first thing to say is that it is often the case that teachers pick up all sorts of factors that mean they notice the children who are at risk. It’s understandable. Teachers are professionals. Overwhelmingly, they don’t just want to impart knowledge, but they care for the children and the young people in their classes and they will pick up on changes in behaviour that suggest there may be a problem. They work most effectively when there are strong social work departments in the local authority area in which they work. One of the reasons why we asked Eileen Munro to look at the social work profession was to give social workers a greater degree of confidence in intervening earlier. Professor Munro’s report is an independent report.
I personally think that social workers have been too restricted in the past in intervening. I agree with Martin Narey that we need to encourage social workers to be more assertive in challenging the behaviour of certain families. Social workers have often spent time with lots of dysfunctional families and that has led them almost to accept or acquiesce in standards of raising children that deserve to be challenged. I therefore hope that the Munro report will encourage social workers to be more assertive in taking children out of homes where they are at risk and into better circumstances. My colleague Tim Loughton has been energetic in saying that the corollary of that is that we need to change the rules on adoption, so that if children are in care, they are moved very quickly into a caring home or with the right foster family. So we have been taking action in those areas.
The reason why the Department has been renamed is that all of these things feed into the most important thing, which is making sure that by the time children are 16 or 18, they have the skills, confidence and qualifications to be able to be fully independent citizens.
Q165 Pat Glass: I think very few people here-if anyone-would disagree with what you have just said. I’ve seen far too many cases where children are left for too long before social workers intervene.
Can I take you back briefly to the early intervention grant? It’s Bill’s question again, really. It’s £2.2 million; it will be £2.3 million-
Pat Glass: Sorry-£2.3 billion by 2014-15, but Sure Start will take up the vast bulk of that funding. There are other areas that are not about early years intervention, but are equally important and, in many cases, more so. This Committee has heard lots of evidence about the quality of child and adolescent mental health services: we have heard that provision is not fit for purpose and is a national disgrace, and I think you will hear more from us on that. Issues such as speech therapy, reading intervention, behaviour support and PRUs are all incredibly important. Yet all of that will come out of the same grant, £2 billion of which will be taken up by Sure Start.
I hear what you say about local authorities being able to do things differently. We’ve heard evidence from the voluntary sector that they can do things better and cheaper, and I think local authorities have to look at that. However, are you not still trying to get a pint out of a half-pint pot? It is not really fair to say to local authorities, "Yes, you can have all these duties, but the money will not be there to deliver it."
Chair: A nice brief answer, please, Secretary of State.
Michael Gove: Yes. It is a very fair challenge. At the current level, to maintain the network of Sure Start’s children’s centres costs £1.1 billion, so that is 50% of the early intervention grant. On some of the things that you mentioned, Pat, we’re giving schools direct money to do. Some areas, such as CAMHS or Connexions, need reform-I agree with you on that.
Q166 Tessa Munt: I’d like to spend a little time looking at discretionary learner support grant and the comparison with the education maintenance allowance. From the student point of view, what would be the difference? Is it a different name or a different aim? How will the student experience the difference?
Michael Gove: I’ve been having a look at the evidence on EMA-who benefits, who receives it, and what we can do with that money. I had a look at two reports, one commissioned by my predecessor through the National Foundation for Educational Research and published after the election, as well as some previous work by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which looked at EMA. The first report, from the IFS, said that there was no evidence of increased attendance as a result of EMA and very patchy evidence of increased attainment. The NFER report suggested that the number of students receiving EMA who were attending and who might not otherwise have done so was between 10% and 15%.
The NFER report also identified that there were particular groups who really needed specific support to help them to continue to participate: teenage parents; those who were in jobs without training; those who had fewer than five GCSEs; and those who came from particular areas of disadvantage. There was an additional group who were pursuing courses that required some investment-for example, catering courses, where people needed to buy catering whites, culinary equipment, and so on.
The basic thrust of all the evidence was that there was a better way than giving £10, £20 or £30 to an individual learner. If you can give it to a college or a school and it can say, "Lisa clearly deserves it, because she’s doing a course in circumstances in which the additional money is required. Damian, however, perhaps not," that is a more effective way of getting the money there.
We are looking now to ensure that we get the maximum amount of money in, and we’re also considering what the other safeguards need to be. We were talking about moving from a system where the centre controls everything to one where the locality has a greater say, and you want to have a safeguard along the way. If we move from a system that, whatever its strengths and weaknesses, is relatively well understood-the EMA-to a discretionary learner support fund, we need to be sure that, as we move from A to B, the right safeguards are in place. That is what Vince Cable and I are looking at now, and we’ll be saying a wee bit more about that shortly.
Q167 Tessa Munt: Fine. Have you assessed in some way the disproportionate impact on rural schools? I’ll give you a specific example: EMA is used hugely in my area of Somerset, where I have a number of schools that don’t have sixth forms, and it costs £600 to buy a bus pass. It doesn’t matter whether you’re three miles and 100 yards outside your patch, you’re going to have to pay £600 to get to school or college. Can I ask how you’re going to get round the rural issues?
Michael Gove: It is a very good point. Another member of the Committee made the same point to me just last week. It’s undoubtedly the case that, by definition, people travel further to get to sixth form or FE provision than they travel to get to their secondary school, if it’s an 11-to-16 school. Rural transport is a real problem. We are reviewing school and education transport overall. I think that the way in which we support it and some of the rules that exist are not right, so we’re looking now to see how we can improve it, but there is a specific issue with 16 to 18s. One of the things that we’re looking at as we think about how the learner support fund can operate is the specific need to do with transport, particularly in rural areas, that you rightly put your finger on.
Q168 Tessa Munt: If you’re 13 or 14 this year, you are going to be required, compulsorily, to attend school until you are 18. Do you envisage a separate pot of money that can be with the local authority or whomsoever you wish-I don’t mind-so that under-19s have free transport to the school of their choice by 2013 or 2015?
Michael Gove: We are looking now to see how we can reform the transport system. Most people would acknowledge that school transport needs looking at, but I can’t give a guarantee at the moment. Just to be clear, the raising of the participation age doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to be in school; provided you are working and can be released for a training place at college, that counts. We didn’t think the legislation was perfect, but I broadly agreed with the previous Secretary of State that it was right to send a signal that we want more people staying on for longer, and that we want people who are in work after they leave school at the age of 16 to continue to do some training, so there’s an element of flexibility in the law.
Q169 Chair: Can you confirm that the learner support fund will be able to be used by institutions such as FE bodies on the direct provision of transport?
Michael Gove: Yes.
Q170 Tessa Munt: It would be slightly perverse, particularly in an area like mine where there is a number of schools that don’t even have a sixth form, not to overcome such difficulty. For example, if you are at school in Shepton Mallet, are you going to be allowed to travel to Strode college in Street? Or, if you wish to continue with compulsory education, will you have to attend the Blue school in Wells because it’s nearer? It would be perverse, would it not, to compel students to carry on their education in whatever form without getting round the catchment area problem?
Michael Gove: Yes. That is a well made point and I agree with you.
Q171 Tessa Munt: May I address the issue of free school meals? A number of people, particularly in my area, for all sorts of reasons, including perceptions, don’t take them up. Will free school meals at college and sixth form continue to be promoted? That is the other major use of EMA by students in my area.
Michael Gove: Putting that to one side, first, I think more families will claim free school meals, because money will be spent on their children’s education. People who may have had some concerns about it will do so, and schools have good systems now for making sure that no stigma attaches to anyone who claims them. There are various different ways of making sure that nobody knows.
The second thing is that post-16, I recognise that people use the EMA not only for transport, but for food costs and in some cases paying rent to their parents. Within the system of funding for over-16s, there is already some money that reflects disadvantage, and we will increase-by how much will be announced in due course-the amount of money that goes to disadvantaged 16, 17 and 18-year-olds to help in their learning. It will be a sort of learner premium to complement the Pupil Premium. We will say more about that in due course.
The other thing that I wanted to say is that, tough as it was to get to grips with school funding, post-16 funding is unbelievably complicated and my brain hurts when I look at it. Fortunately the civil servants understand it, and we are trying very hard to make it simpler and clearer and to divert resources towards the poorest.
Q172 Tessa Munt: Finally, will the amount of discretionary learner support for FE colleges compared with sixth form colleges be equalised-will that be the same?
Michael Gove: Yes, that’s the aim.
Q173 Tessa Munt: How soon an aim?
Michael Gove: By the end of the Comprehensive Spending Review.
Q174 Lisa Nandy: Is it fair, Secretary of State, to remove EMA from students who are currently at sixth form colleges and will lose it halfway through their course, given that they have kept their side of the bargain?
Michael Gove: For those people who are in real need, the discretionary learner support fund is there to help them. We have clearly signalled the changes. No one can fail to be aware that changes are coming to EMA, so people now have an opportunity to register and receive it right up to the end of this year.
Q175 Ian Mearns: In places like Newcastle, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland, 35% to 40% of the students in colleges are on the higher rate of EMA. How is the discretionary support fund going to support them? It is nowhere near enough.
Q176 Lisa Nandy: Just to add to Ian’s question, can you confirm that there will be a £500-million shortfall between the education maintenance allowance funding and the discretionary fund that is replacing it?
Michael Gove: No, I cannot confirm that, because we have not yet announced what the total amount will be for the discretionary learner support fund. We will make that announcement in due course; then you will be able to see what the gap is. I will write to the Committee on that. I take Ian’s point as well. The other day, I was talking to Rushanara Ali, who made a clear, focused and impassioned case reflecting the fact that in Tower Hamlets there are lots of children who are eligible for EMA. We have to strike a balance: yes, EMA certainly goes to many disadvantaged families, but it is also the case that precisely those families will benefit from other things that the coalition Government are doing. We have to look at the evidence on whether the EMA has been targeted as effectively as possible. I am always open to new evidence and new studies, and I understand that there is a new study from the Institute for Fiscal Studies which came out overnight, but I have not had a chance to read it. The inference that I drew from it is that it is a good thing for people to be in education for longer. However, the evidence that has been published so far suggests that the EMA is not the most effectively targeted benefit.
Q177 Lisa Nandy: Can I press you on this question of learners who are currently on a course? There is a very real and pressing issue for those people. My local Wigan and Leigh college has done a survey which found that 75% of students currently in their first year of college will not be able to carry on next year. Can I urge you, on the basis of the evidence from the IFS that came out today, from the LSE, from the Manchester college and my own Wigan and Leigh college, to reconsider the situation for those young people?
Michael Gove: I will certainly look at that evidence. The one thing that I would say is that the work that has already been done, including the work published a couple of months ago by the NFER, involved a very systematic look at the experience of learners across the country. It was a piece of proper, rigorous opinion research, and the results were pretty clear. Of course, if you are in receipt of a benefit or support, you will want to maintain it. That is entirely fair. But for those students it is undoubtedly the case that they will be in the long term, in every sense, better off if they continue with their education, particularly given the state of the economy-I was about to add "that we inherited", but I don’t want to be party political. Overall, the message that I want to stress is that it is in everyone’s interests for people to stay in education.
Q178 Nic Dakin: I am probably one of the few people who have administered both EMAs and discretionary learner support awards, and I agree with your comments, Secretary of State, that post-16 funding is highly complex. I am doubtful that civil servants fully understand it, because those of us at the front line struggle to understand it.
Let me pick up on a couple of issues. I am heartened by the fact that you seem to be saying that the figures-currently, some suggest a 95% cut in funding that’s supporting young people-might not be as bad as we are expecting. You are saying, "Wait till we see the figures." I am heartened by that because I agree with my colleagues that cuts of that sort will have a very severe impact on young people. Generally within the sector, my colleagues or ex-colleagues in the sector see the NFER research as very flawed-it was mainly school-based, with very little college evidence, so it was an unrepresentative sample. Was there any discussion or survey of head teachers or principals of colleges-people at the sharp end who know what is happening at the sharp end-in the thinking that has led to our current direction of travel?
Michael Gove: The NFER research was commissioned and signed off by my predecessor. You know how sometimes research can be commissioned to fit a preconceived notion and you get your mates to do the work for you. If anyone’s mates were being commissioned here, they were the previous Secretary of State’s and the results were pretty clear and unambiguous. As I said to Lisa, I would be interested in other rigorous research that could be produced that would help us to weigh up the right problems.
You are a former FE college principal, Nic. Any good FE college principal, if asked the question, "Would you like more money or less?" would say, "More." Any good FE college principal, if asked the question, "Would you like more money for all your students or less?" would say, "More." The question that we have to ask is: at a time of tight resources, given some of the inherent inefficiencies in the EMA scheme as things stand at the moment, what is the most effective way of targeting support?
Q179 Nic Dakin: The difference with EMA is that it’s not money going to the college, but money going to the individual.
Michael Gove: Absolutely.
Q180 Nic Dakin: That is the scope of it. The principal of my local general FE college contacted me this week and said that he was most concerned that the taking away of that support would have a detrimental effect. When we did a bit of internal research within my own college, I was surprised that attendance of students on EMA was better than students not on EMA, and there was a direct correlation between attendance and attainment. I was actually surprised by that, but it has been confirmed by what everyone is saying.
Can I pick up another issue that was raised by Tessa to do with free school meals? You know that post-16 students in colleges don’t get free school meals. Given that more post-16 students are in colleges than in schools, surely that needs addressing when the direction of travel is to take away the support for students in colleges.
Michael Gove: Yes, and one of the reasons that we are looking at the whole area of post-16 funding is to see how we can more effectively target resources on the education of students who come from more disadvantaged homes.
Chair: Moving on to school sports partnerships, Bill.
Q181 Bill Esterson: The evidence that I have backs up the point about attendance and the drop-off that principals who I have spoken to in different parts of the country are expecting, and I hope that you look at that. I urge you to consider looking at changing the existing system if there are problems with EMA, rather than abandoning it and moving on to something else. I think that would be the request.
Regarding school sports, I know your love of team sport, because you were such a proficient player. Was it rugby you played?
Michael Gove: You are very well informed. I played rugby and hockey at school. I am also a fan of Aberdeen football club, which is a rather depressing position to be in at the moment.
Q182 Bill Esterson: I love team sport. I played, and still play. As one of the few Members of Parliament who plays hockey, I can comment on that subject.
Pat Glass: Is there a parliamentary hockey team?
Bill Esterson: There is actually a parliamentary team.
Chair: These sporting biographies are very interesting, but perhaps we could keep to the point.
Q183 Bill Esterson: Cricket is the other thing I play, but anyway.
I questioned you, Secretary of State, on this before in the Chamber, and the point you have come back with is that you have a focus on team sport. I remember very clearly that not everybody enjoyed team sport in the way some of us do. However, there is an important link between participation in any kind of physical activity, health, education and attainment, and I know you will accept that. So why is it that you have this emphasis on team sport and are so critical of the increase in participation under the last Government?
Michael Gove: I don’t want to be particularly critical of the last Government. In fact, one of the things that I tried to say in the Opposition day debate that we had is that I have a lot of personal admiration for the commitment to sport shown by Tessa Jowell, Andy Burnham, Gerry Sutcliffe, Dick Caborn and others. I don’t think anyone can deny that they were passionate about it.
There is an argument we have about whether the delivery mechanism that the last Government had was as effective as it should have been. One of the particular concerns that I had is that the existence of school sports partnerships and partnership development managers was meant to complement what happens in schools. In schools, you have two hours of physical education, which is basically there to ensure that children are fit and that they take part in physical activity. While there is an expectation in the current national curriculum that people learn a little about how to outwit opponents-I think that is the actual term used in the national curriculum-overall the emphasis of the PE curriculum is on getting fit and learning basic skills such as swimming 50 metres. The partnership development managers and the school sports co-ordinators are there specifically to get schools to work together so that there can be competitions. The fact that only around 21% of students regularly took part in inter-school competitions seemed to suggest that while there was clearly good work going on in lots of school sport partnerships and lots of dedicated people who were working within them, all was not as well as it could be, and that we needed to look again at how we encourage a greater degree of in-school and inter-school competition.
That is one of the reasons why we have decided to use the unique opportunity that the Olympics provide to try to set up a school Olympics competition. There is already a Schools games, which is a successful competition. One problem with the Schools games
is that they tend to take existing elite athletes and reward them on the basis of individual endeavour, rather than reflecting the schools themselves and giving them the opportunity to compete and to take pride in the collective endeavour of their teams. The reason why I emphasise that is that sports are about more than keeping fit. Competitive team sports confer on those who take part a variety of skills-in the old Baden-Powell phrase, they are character building.
Chair: Can I cut you off there? The philosophy of sport is very interesting, but I will move on to the next question.
Q184 Bill Esterson: For many children, but not all, there is no doubt that there is something in that, but listening to school sports co-ordinators and subject co-ordinators, they do a lot more than that. They engage with children from many schools. Is it 45 primary schools that are linked to each sports college on average and several secondary schools, with huge success? I have one in my constituency which reports to me at length details of all the things it does, and I am sure that others have the same evidence base. The concern is what happens to that growing infrastructure and engagement-involving participation-if the funding is not there, because schools won’t be able to fund those positions.
Michael Gove: Kate Hoey, who is the one sports Minister I didn’t mention in the previous list and is probably my favourite-
Bill Esterson: Some things aren’t on the national curriculum.
Michael Gove: Don’t tempt me. Kate said that the whole point behind school sports partnerships is that they were meant over time not quite to do themselves out of a job, but to move from being a compulsory intervention that helped schools to develop relationships and networks to one that faded so that people who wanted to keep them on could, and those who had arrangements in place could use them. The whole point of the intervention was to jolt those schools that hadn’t been involved and weren’t involved in playing sports or didn’t have a record of doing that, and when that action had been taken to move back.
One thing I found was that some local authority areas and some schools say that they would rather use the money in their own way, and others say that they are attached to their relationships and-I made this point in the letter to Baroness Campbell in October-we wanted to say not that school sports partnerships are ending, but that increasingly they should be a matter for schools themselves to decide what the relationship should be.
Q185 Bill Esterson: Without the funding being there, they won’t be able to. I take the point that not everyone will want to carry on with them, but where, as in my constituency, they want them to carry on, they don’t see the work being possible without someone doing it, and they need someone to pay for it.
Michael Gove: One thing that got lost in the general stramash was the fact that we have a pot of funding which exists to complement funding that schools have themselves for their own PE activities. We are going to explain how, in the context of the schools Olympics the money will be there to support schools. We will make an announcement about that in due course. You might rightly say, "Come on, Govey, where’s the money?"
Chair: In football parlance.
Michael Gove: Indeed. There are a number of areas where central Government provides additional support-music is one, sport is one, and science, technology and maths, and modern foreign languages are others-and we will come forward in each of those areas to explain what we can do to support them. For example, Darren Henley from Classic FM is helping us to work out how at a constrained time we can make sure we try to support the sort of collective provision of music services that we have at the moment.
Chair: Thank you, Secretary of State.
Q186 Chair: We must move on to the White paper, which I welcome with its emphasis on the importance of teaching, not only in its title, but in its content. First, as the quality of teaching is so critical to education outcomes in this country, what is your analysis of why the quality of graduates entering the teaching profession in recent years has risen?
Michael Gove: In two words, Andrew Adonis, who recognised before any other Minister that, exactly as you say, and as the Select Committee argued, the quality of teaching is important. Andrew, in particular, thought that you needed to increase the proportion of graduates from top universities who were coming into teaching. He set out enthusiastically to support Teach First, which, as a charity, has changed the perception of teaching among many graduates from our top universities. I can’t remember the exact stats or the exact year, but the number of people from Oxbridge and Russell group universities who were entering teaching was tiny before the advent of Teach First. Teach First became an elite route into teaching, and people now compete to get on the course and to become teachers in some of our most challenging state schools. That has had a beneficial halo effect on teaching overall.
Q187 Chair: Despite the low numbers, you think Teach First really has had a system-wide effect.
Michael Gove: It has had a halo effect. There are people who recognise that this is an elite route into teaching. Although they think that they might not be able to get on to Teach First, they have been turned on to teaching.
There are other things that Andrew did. In particular, I think he had an influence on Tony Blair when it came to some of the advertising that attempted to draw people into teaching. I don’t want to get drawn into too many of the initiatives that he and others introduced, but things like the knighthoods conferred on outstanding head teachers like Michael Wilshaw and Kevin Satchwell reinforced how important they were. Things like the teaching awards, which David Puttnam and David Blunkett helped establish, were also influential.
Q188 Chair: They are now being cut, are they not?
Michael Gove: No, we’re in negotiation with the teaching awards. If you want me to say a little more about that, I can.
Q189 Chair: No, if you’re in negotiation, and they’re not being cut back definitively, that’ll do for now. Do you have a measure of the quality of graduates? We talk about certain systems in the world getting their teaching from the top deciles. Do we have agreed measures of what these deciles are? If so, is it possible for you to publish an annual score on that year’s entrants into the profession so that we can monitor over time whether you are successful in promoting teaching and attracting graduates to it in the way Andrew Adonis did?
Michael Gove: Yes, we’ve got quite a lot of data on people who are entering teaching. I’ll happily discuss with the Committee, and have the Department discuss with the Committee, what the best and most effective way of publishing information would be so that I can be held to account.
Chair: Thank you very much.
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