POLITICS

Budget 2017: More Than £200m For Maths, Science And Teacher Training

Money will feed post-Brexit demand for advanced skills in tech and engineering.

21/11/2017 22:00 GMT
 
 
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Underperforming schools will be handed a multi-million pound boost by the Chancellor to drive up teaching standards. 

Eyeing the country’s competitiveness post-Brexit, Philip Hammond will announce £42m for teacher training and £177m to bolster maths and science provision as part of his Budget on Wednesday

Funding for 300,000 homes-a-year, driverless cars, reducing the student debt burden, lifting the public sector pay cap and changes to Universal Credit is also expected to be in the Budget. 

Speculation is also mounting Hammond could cut stamp duty for first-time buyers and splash more cash for mental health and transport in the North. 

Of the new education cash, £177m will promote maths and computer science study amid a growing need for advanced skills in the tech and engineering labour market.

The £42m will fund a ‘teacher development premium’ pilot, which will give every teacher in selected underachieving schools £1,000 to upskill.

Schools and sixth form colleges will be handed £600 for every new student who decides to take maths or further maths at A Levels, or Core Maths.

A targeted £84m will be aimed at tripling the number of fully-qualified computer science teachers supported by a new National Centre for Computing.

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Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner 

A Treasury spokesman said: “There is growing need for advanced quantitative and maths skills in the workforce to ensure the UK remains a competitive force in the global marketplace.

“Figure show that students who study A Level Maths earn up to 10% more in their early thirties compared to those who took up other subjects. However, 72% of students who achieved GCSE Maths C or above last year chose not to study the subject beyond this level - missing out on huge potential earnings later in life.”

But Labour hit out at the Government for apparently leaving the education budget with a funding shortfall of around £175m after Prime Minister Theresa May made a string of commitments on student debt at the Conservative Party Conference in October. 

The tuition fee repayment threshold for low-earning graduates would be raised from £21,000 to £25,000 a year while undergraduate tuition fees were to be frozen at £9,250 a year. 

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Universities Minister Jo Johnson

Universities Minister Jo Johnson confirmed that the changes will amount to “a £50m reduction in financial year 2018-19 and a £125m reduction in financial year 2019-20” in a Parliamentary Question to Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner. 

Rayner said: “It would be totally unacceptable if this just led to yet more cuts to schools and other education provision.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman, however, said the commitments to graduates were “a conscious and important investment in the long-term skills capacity of the economy” and would be fully funded, hinting education could be in for a further boost at the Budget.

John McDonnell, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, meanwhile, called for the Budget to be a “change of direction”.

He said: “Instead of gimmicks such as driverless cars, or tricks to fiddle the figures just so Philip Hammond can pretend he is reaching his own targets, there must be a recognition of the emergency in our public services and an actual end to austerity. 

“The Chancellor must also pause the roll out of Universal Credit, and have a complete reform. It won’t be good enough just to reduce the number of weeks people are waiting, because we will still have families who won’t be paid by Christmas and forced into poverty. We have already seen families faced with eviction due to this delay, so we need urgent action.

“Furthermore, this Budget cannot be one of empty promises and piecemeal measures. He must launch a full scale house-building programme and provide serious infrastructure funding across the whole country, as even his fellow Tory MPs have called for.”