Michael Gove under fire for funding policy
4 February 2014
Michael Gove has made a speech in which he expressed wishes for state schools to be ‘indistinguishable’ from fee-paying schools.
Delivering a keynote speech at the London Academy of Excellence, Michael Gove said he wanted the country's schools to be among the best in the world and that the ‘Berlin Wall’ between state and private schools must be torn down. He also said teachers should be willing to use disciplinary measures such as detentions, line-writing and litter-picking to combat poor behaviour. Hailing the achievements of academies and free schools, which are already able to run longer school days, Mr Gove said he would be providing resources to allow all state schools to extend the day to 10 hours. The extra time would make room for extra-curricular activities such as music.
Gove has come up against criticism for failing fully to address the issue of funding for such an ambitious policy. Average funding for a state school pupil is currently less than half that of the private sector.
Mary Bousted of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said: ‘Teachers are already desperately overworked. They work the most unpaid overtime of all the professions and they can’t work harder. If this is going to happen, there needs to be significant extra funding.’
Gove has also come up against criticism for funding free schools by cutting funding for sixth form colleges. There is concern that funds will be further diverted from sixth forms to make way for plans to overhaul secondary education.
Research by the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA) claims that the Government is spending more than £39,616 for every student at the free schools, compared to £4,000 on those at sixth-form colleges. SFCA claims that its analysis shows that budgets were slashed by 10 per cent three years ago, 6 per cent in 2012 and a further 1.2 per cent in 2013. The cuts stem from the fact the Government's pledge to maintain funding for education only covers the years of compulsory education from the ages of five to 16.
‘Slashing sixth-form funding to protect schools means the Government is building a very well appointed road to nowhere,’ said James Kewin, deputy chief executive of the SFCA. ‘Courses are being cut - particularly those that the Government is keen to see grow - modern foreign languages, STEM [science, technology, engineering and maths], class sizes are increasing and industrial unrest is on the increase. The curriculum is being seriously impoverished.’