Education Secretary Called Out For Bringing Spending Back To 2008 Levels

BBC Breakfast host Sally Nugent pointed out that the government is spending just a "third" of the recommended amount back into education.
Nadhim Zahawi speaking on BBC Breakfast about his plans for the education sector
Nadhim Zahawi speaking on BBC Breakfast about his plans for the education sector
BBC Breakfast

Nadhim Zahawi was called out by BBC Breakfast’s Sally Nugent for his latest investments in the education sector, which are comparable to 2008 funding levels.

The education secretary published his new Schools White Paper on Monday which promised to “make sure every child can reach the full height of their potential” as part of the government’s Levelling Up agenda.

It promised that 90% of primary school children should achieve the expected standard in Key Stage 2 reading, writing and maths by 2030 with this new funding.

However, Nugent pointed out that the investment was not necessarily a silver bullet when it comes to fixing the education sector following the pandemic.

She said: “The government spend on schools in 2022 and 2023 is £53.8 billion.

“Now the IFS [Institute for Fiscal Studies] says that when accounting for inflation, which is the most important thing here, and higher costs, this is actually the same level as 15 years ago.”

Zahawi replied: “Well, you remember that 15 years ago we had the financial crisis and crash that we had to deal with when we came in to the coalition.

“And then we were hit by the global pandemic, when the chancellor made £400 billion available to protect jobs, 14 million people had that net of protection through furlough.”

He claimed that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) had actually praised the government’s spend on education for the amount it’s investing.

However, Nugent pointed out: “It is still just a third of the support that the government’s own former catch-up commissioner Sir Kevan Collins asked for, who then went on to resign.”

Collins resigned in June last year in protest over Boris Johnson’s scaled down recovery plan and said the £1.4 billion package promised at the time would not even “come close” to meeting the needs of children’s education after the pandemic.

Collins had proposed a £15 billion boost to help UK education recover – but the plans which actually went through equated to just £22 per child in the average primary school.

Zahawi reiterated that he still has ”£5 billion to spend on recovery” and that “the national tutoring programme is working well”.

“If I need more money I will go back to the Treasury,” Zahawi promised.

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