Today (19 Dec) Education Secretary Gavin Williamson welcomes the news that Thornaby Academy is set to join the Falcon Education Academies Trust. We also look at reports from Reform and the Office for Students.

Falcon Education Academies Trust

 Today, Thursday 19 December, the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson welcomed the news that Thornaby Academy is set to join the Falcon Education Academies Trust. Based in Stockton-on-Tees, the school will transfer to the trust in the New Year, subject to due diligence and legal agreements.

This comes following our announcement in September that a new specialist academy trust would be set up to take on, and turn around, the most long-term underperforming schools. The academy was piloted in the north of England and offered direct support from school leaders with a track record in school improvement.

The trust will be run by David Earnshaw, the chair of Outwood Grange Academies Trust, with the support of a strong team with extensive expertise in school improvement and financial management.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

This Government has always been clear that where there are stuck or underperforming schools, we will take swift action to help them to improve – sitting back and letting communities down is not an option.

That’s why we’re supporting the Falcon Education Academies Trust, to help some of the most challenging schools in the North of England and it’s encouraging to see the trust is now in a position to support its first school.

Schools’ financial health

Today the independent think tank, Reform, have published research into the financial health of schools. Reform analysed the department’s local authority and school expenditure 2018- 2019 figures which were published last week.

This government is investing £14 billion more in schools over the next three years. This will give schools, teachers and parents the certainty to plan, improve standards and ensure all children get the top quality education they deserve.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

The figures used by Reform show that the proportion of maintained secondary schools in deficit has fallen since 2017-18.

This government has announced the biggest funding boost for schools in a decade, giving every school more money for every child. This means that every school in the country can see per pupil funding rise in line with inflation next year, with all secondary schools receiving a minimum of £5,000 per pupil.

With the introduction of the National Funding Formula, schools are funded according to need, based on the characteristics of the pupils they serve.  We do not intend, instead, to direct funding to schools based on their historic spending decisions.  That would be a retrograde and unfair approach.

Review of higher education

Today, Thursday 19 December, the Office for Students (OfS) has published its first annual review of higher education in England. The report warns that 'pockets of poor quality provision' threaten England's world-leading reputation.

The government set up the Office for Students to ensure students were getting good value for money and were able to hold institutions to account.

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said:

Our higher education sector is world-leading, but pockets of unacceptable poor practice harm its reputation and demonstrate the need for robust regulation.

We set up the Office for Students to hold institutions that aren’t delivering for students to account, and have given them a range of powers to take action - including financial penalties or deregistration in the most serious cases.

I look forward to the OfS building on these foundations, and welcome its ambition to go further in protecting and improving the quality of higher education in England.

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